I don't think that was going to happen no matter what you said, given the visual dress and mechanical support in other areas in D&D.I'd disagree with you pretty strongly here. You are correct about it being GM-facing. However, that GM-facing mechanic is a big indicator to the GM that most encounters are primarily nonviolent encounters.
And I think history rather suggests I'm right on that; those rules were in there; they got used selectively or ignored pretty consistently.
That's about you as a GM, not about what a tool in the game did, however.I say this from much experience of getting new players in who have been "trained" by other GMs that all (D&D especially) encounters are automatically combat. However, once I present those players with a chance to do something besides combat, most readily embrace that and enjoy it.
Well, the fact its mechanically extremely difficult except for particularly fast opponents to run away if they wish to, and this gets even worse outside when spells and archery can still be deployed by pursuers. Often GMs have been taught its pointless, and they assume the NPCs and monsters know that, too.Likewise, the number of people who run combats all to the death baffles me, when we had a morale system from the beginning. It gives a mechanical indication that most critters aren't going to fight to the death. They'll break and run when things go against them. I have so many players that expect everything to fight to the death over the years that it's clear that not only do GM's skip rolling morale, they don't even think about having beaten foes turn and run.
(Its not helped by the way alignment was read by, well, the majority as producing pretty Manichean opposition in a lot of cases, too; even players who might let random barbarians or bandits get away wouldn't do so with orcs. And of course the fact that, trivial or not, kills still brought experience).