Gaskets are selected based upon the mating surface materials, pressure, surface area, surface condition and what they are sealing.
As far as I know, harder gaskets are used in harsher locations. But there are many factors involved with modern to do with making them lighter and stronger. A strong steel gasket may be applied to a cylinder head because it adds strength to an aluminum block. The large engines used for power generation or ships have heavy steel or cast iron blocks that are machined to a high tolerance that only need a thin film or soft gasket to make the seal tight.
There are many conditions that determine what gasket is best, but some of it is just what the designers choose.