I did reach out to Google for a comment on this change but I have yet to hear back from Google PR.
The closest thing we have to an official response from Google is Danny Sullivan responding about it on Twitter saying “it’s not” losing its appeal to Google.
It’s not 🙂
— Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) November 27, 2017
I mean, that does make sense. Google needs featured snippets for voice search, Google Assistant, Google Home, etc. But they can use knowledge graphs as well, and they probably do prefer to use knowledge graphs instead of using featured snippets when possible.
So featured snippets seem to be important for Google but they are fairly dynamic in nature.
Forum discussion at Twitter.