They have certainly changed what LEGO really means. Not in a bad way but they are certainly not a "build whatever you imagine" company anymore.
As they can no longer maintain exclusivity on the base model bricks, they have to do something to drive demand. Like Monopoly, they're doing it with licensing agreements and limited editions. The old buckets are still around, but there's no margin and too much competition to survive as just the more modern version of Lincoln Logs.