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It's a way to individualize the player character in game. As any given character can only have 1 spirit it becomes a choice to what you want to work with. If they were all properly balanced (and best in slot) this would add a sense of uniqueness to a persons character as their choice of spirit would dictate the gameplay style they had the most affinity towards. This along with the effort you put into building the spirit with the NPC interaction builds a sense of intimacy between the human psyche and the entity that is their spirit weapon. You baby your weapon, feeding it, repairing it, conversing with it. People want spirits to be good because they want to have a pet that they raised up themselves. A lot of suggestions towards spirits is customization as well, this adds to the sense of raising a unique weapon a player can call their own.
The hours, days, weeks, years, I spent in building up my level 50 spirit has made it more a part of my character than just another item, before I ego changed to a wand to be meta relevant my cylinder felt like it was just as much a part of my character as all the skills and stats I had invested it. It wasn't just a piece of gear that is fleeting with durability loss and the chance for something to come out and completely invalidate it's existence (although this basically happened with spirits). People want a partner that they can rely on in combat, and to know that the effort put into to raising their virtual pet will always remain BiS.