Counterstrike may once have been newbie friendly, but because there's so many people playing now who have been playing for so long, it would be very hard for a 'newbie' since they would have not a clue compared to the others.
Anyway, the JK2 patches changed a few things, but not all that much. The core gameplay is still the same - it's really only 'practically uncounterable' moves (note: I didn't say completely uncounterable) like a DFA that changes direction in mid-air and the pull-backstab combo thing that have been toned down.
Obviously it's not perfect, but I don't think you can simply attribute it to be Raven being newbie-friendly. Enough people complained from all sides of the JK2 Community about things that needed to be included in patches, and I think Raven has tried to accomodate as many people as possible.
And enough with the JK2 is dying thing. It's still selling. People are still playing. Obviously it's not the behemoth that Counterstrike is, but get over it.