While there was a post a few months ago regarding Easy Mode and its place on these boards, I believe circumstances have changed recently and changed enough to warrant a serious discussion about it being added as a separate category leaderboard.
Firstly, we have more than one run of Easy Mode (PC) - this already makes it different from the Xbox One situation, where I am still the only runner and have no-one to compare against, so a leaderboard would just be me, with little sign of changing.
Secondly, from that point - there is a lot of interest in Easy Mode, much more than Xbox One - many more people probably have the ability to run Easy Mode than the Xbox One, and the interest has been shown in the popularity of the Easy runs and recent routing in the category. I believe Easy Mode leaderboards would also make the game look more attractive to potential runners due to the choice of difficulty, although this would need to balanced with the fact that at some modes, Easy Mode may not be "easier", just different. However, if someone tries the run in Normal, finds it unenjoyable for whatever reason, their reasons may enable them to find Easy Mode enjoyable - it is the choice that allows us to benefit here. (If someone asked if they could run on XB1 and why there was no leaderboard, I hope we could explain to said person we would create one once they completed their run as that would mean two official runs have been completed and are submittable, even if not by the original runner)
Thirdly, Easy Mode is a category that, in my view, meets the requirements for a serious category that is not a "meme", or a category that has niche requirements - it is simply beating the game as quickly as possible, while keeping the game in Easy Mode throughout the entire run. It is easy to define, and is one of the "purest" categories in terms of what it does, as explained above.
Finally, and this is a point I believe lends it the most legitimacy as a category - it has been proven by people who've already run it that it is already faster than the Normal Mode WR, and has the potential to be even faster. As such, the fastest way so far to beat the game from start to finish is to play it in Easy Mode all the way. Going on from this, if a glitch, most likely a wrong warp, is discovered, that allows us to skip a large portion of the game, is found, we would accept it as legitimate. so why not accept a feature of the game if it's faster?
I'd like to address a potential pitfall in this recent point, though. If the objective is to get from Point A (Start a new game) to Point B (Crystarium Expanded Dismissed), what if a fight or strat is discovered to be better in Normal Mode than Easy? What if it's faster or better to switch to Normal Mode to improve the chances of good drops, or for a fight, taking into account the time required to switch the difficulty in the menu?
This presents us with a dilemma - does this mean, if we accept Easy Mode because it's faster, we create a situation where we'd have to accept a category in the future - "Any%", that allows for difficulty switching between the timer being started and the finish?
The answer to this, in my opinion, is no.
However, this is the major point of contention, I think. While the chances of something being discovered that means it's quicker to switch from Easy to Normal and back for purposes of drops or faster fights is so small, there is still the possibility of it happening. Even so, it can happen.
If you start a run in Easy or Normal Mode, though, you accept a set of game mechanics, some of which differ from one another, such as how the stagger gauge functions pre-stagger. It is my opinion that it is these differences that themselves warrants the creation of a separate category, and thus, for the separate category to be created (as it should), a rule should be mandated that the run must remain in Easy Mode throughout the entire run, as a placeholder for the moment.
If it is discovered that the above issue is relevant, that should be debated when it is made so (my personal opinion is that if this does happen, Easy Mode should just be changed to Any%, although I am still not 100% certain on this).
I welcome all discussion and debate about this view - to me, the points I have raised, when put together, create an argument strong enough to legitimise an Easy Mode (PC) category being created on these leaderboards. If you disagree, agree, think enemies have reduced HP, whatever, please make your voice heard, as I believe this is the time for the issue to be taken seriously.
Nobody considered Easy because it was introduced after the console release, and only the normal difficulty more or less mimics the parameters of the console release. For the sake of speedrunning, though, Easy difficulty is the way to beat the game as quickly as possible, so there's no reason I can see for not including it on the leaderboard. I also think that it invalidates using the name "Any%" for PC, since you're adding a totally arbitrary constraint; a difficulty setting is completely different from something like a glitch that can be limited in an Any% category.
There are many games where the fastest category is not the showcase on the leaderboard - take Ori, for example. Your primary category is the one that best showcases the game.
I support the idea of forking the Any% name to two categories: Any% Easy and Any% Normal. Let Easy allow Easy difficulty for as much of the run as you like (or all of it, if it's what the group wants).
Keep Any% Normal as the primary category of the Leaderboard, and maintain the rule that it requires Normal difficulty for the duration of the run. The first thing someone sees on this site, for this game's leaderboard, should be the set of Any% runs it displays today.
Categories should be platform independent - I don't support saying Any percent has different rules for different platforms. Discussing "is normal difficulty the real Any% on PC" seems like a fool's errand, in my opinion.
So I realise chiming in on the discussion makes things a little less neutral potentially - but my stance would be to use another level of subcategories in the same way Kingdom Hearts currently does, and leave Normal as the default across the board. While it potentially makes a lot of combinations without runs, it heads off the initial problem of having to duplicate categories for easy mode, and is generally a bit more intuitive on the page to navigate.
What Kingdom Hearts does is actually a bit different (Maybe I'm just missunderstanding you) We have one main Category called "Any%" which branches out to the different difficulties (Beginner, Standard, Proud, Crit) and I think that woulf be a nice way to go about it as well, have it being called Any% in the header, then have a Variable for each platform as we already have, and on top of that, for PC only, add Easy mode and Normal mode as another variable.
To me easy never been a "meme", just nobody ran/route it. I personnaly will not learn it and keep running any% normal.
Now about "rules", I agree about not changing difficulties in run. And be like KH series or Re4 for example. Re4 as multiple supports, difficulties it shouldn't be a problem to make leaderboard clean for FF13.
You can check it here: https://www.speedrun.com/re4console
Aside that i think, if someone route it and if 3+ runners go for it, we shouldn't be mindclose to not open an Any% free difficulties.
Where are we on this? It's been nearly a month and there are no dissenting opinions on adding Easy to the LB in some capacity. Even if we don't agree on a new format, we can do something and if people don't like it make a change.