I would think that anything that makes the core forum more useable (or, in the case of anti-spammer measures, at least prevents it from becoming less useable) should be counted among "needs". I think when there are complaints from hundreds and possibly even thousands of users (and that's just those who do bother to register here to complain) about daily spambot registrations, there is a problem with the whole system.
The question is how to respond to the problems as a developer, I think. Given the nature of phpBB as a project, they have an either-or choice to make, really, and not a both-and. The developers can continue to build upon and rework the phpBB 2.0 core, or they can replace it. They faced the same decision with phpBB 1.x, and they replaced phpBB 1 and discontinued support for it altogether.
We have a similar situation now. The difference is that phpBB 2.0 will still be supported on phpBB 3.0 release. But in terms of responding to community feedback and in terms of the viability of the product itself, the decision was made to replace the 2.x product line rather than continue it. We're all, community wide, stuck in the gap between the making of that decision some time ago and product delivery.