I'm just getting into FPGA stuff and I gotta say it is REALLY nice to get down to the metal in that sort of intimate way. I might grumble at the tools compared to what I'm spoiled with but my GOODNESS designing a tiny little soft core to do structured I/O at clock-speed (1 transfer per clock with routing and such, not that impressive but REALLY cool to dig into compared to hundreds or thousands of cycles in software!).
I don't know if I'm wired differently or if more people don't give it a try, but with the price point of some things coming out I feel like its going to get really popular. I'm using a ~$150 Zybo to develop for the Xilinx 7 series at work and Vivado is free for that chip (targeting a larger one later, and that DID cost but its obviously worth it). Thats a game changer. That brings it on par with the cost of buying a compiler in the 90s. There are even cheaper ones out there. The sucker even runs Linux so you can ship things from the pins to the kernel via DMA.
Honestly until I started working on this level I didn't appreciate it properly. Now its a world of possibilities opening up for me, and the software know-how is critical to do things like write drivers and applications on top of this hardware. No better cure for hubris than going outside of your comfort zone and starting from scratch.