HC is definitely the way the game is 'meant' to be played.
Chris has blatantly said it in past interviews
This doesn't mean there's anything wrong or bad about SC in the slightest bit, I always recommend my friends start on SC. I just really wish they presented HC as a cool challenge to work up to once you have learned the game. That's why I really think HC deserves some extra cosmetic challenge rewards that you cant get in SC. Just to incentivize trying it out once you feel comfortable with the game mechanics. The rush and excitement of near death situations that I make it out of are the reason I keep pushing.
The chance I lose everything makes everything I hold on to that much more important to me.