This interesting blog post maintains that today is the "Golden Age" of wargaming.
I generally agree with the blog -- and I think his criticisms of Memoir '44 are mostly valid. I just think its flaws bother me less.
To me games like the various Borg designs, Larry Harris' Axis & Allies board games and the Hasbro Axis & Allies land and naval minis, Wings of War, Worthington Games' Hold the Line series and so on fill a needed and valuable niche in the wargaming universe. I don't need any one wargame to be the "ultimate" wargame. There's a need for many different approaches.
To me these lighter wargames are much like a good painting, a television documentary or a comic book. They provide a vivid evocation of a topic, perhaps and insight or two, and with luck prompt a desire to learn more. Their constrained realism is not a bug, but a feature that, if well done, makes a topic accessible to a wider audience. They are no substitute for a detailed study, a book or a library.
Ideally when your new gaming partner starts to point out the unreality, compromises and general silliness that can crop up in a Memoir '44 or Axis & Allies game he/she is ready to move up to the next level. "Yeah, I agree that strategy wouldn't be possible in real life. Maybe you'd like to take a look at _________" and see how it turns out." Many people find all the strategy they want or can handle in a game of M44 or A&A. Indeed, for many people that desire is well-sated by Risk! But for those who are looking for more I think games like Memoir '44 are an excellent introduction. They're fun, colorful and quick and much more successful than SPI/AH era attempts to do the same thing.