I'm surprised to see them do it.
I have no idea why, but they've made a number of retarded moves with no explanation in the past:>removing the option to get 100 results per page>removing scroll image search>removing search query from tab title
If it's a cost cutting measure, it'd have to be because more and more people are
learning it exists and using it, but they don't make enough money
(from selling email accounts) to keep up with the demand.
Maybe people didn't use Ixquick enough.
Maybe they think Searx is superior.
I don't know.
You are right that Google's results are trash (articles from news websites typically get top priority second only to Wikipedia)
but everything else is even worse in my experience
Searx is what you want if you like having control over what results you get,
but at the same time the aggregation is probably not that sophisticated,
so if something about Ixquick searches to you seemed coherent and effective,
maybe a more black-boxed engine like Dogpile is for you.
I know of Gigablast, but it's not a meta-search engine from my understanding.
If you're tired of centralization, you can also run the software YaCY, which
is a decentralized search engine;
but it's written in Java so it's resource intensive.
I personally continue to use Startpage until I get a server for YaCY,
but if I was in your predicament, I'd use Searx. Hadn't heard of MetaGer
but it looks good. You've got your options covered.