I have participated in this hobby for almost 12 years now, I feel like I have a pretty good idea as to how GW has transformed. Back in ye olden days, going to the shop was fun because they encouraged you to convert with them, if you needed certain bitz store managers had no problem sharing them with you. You could bring the terrain you built from scratch and you almost never saw special characters running around in games. Codexes promoted customization in both builds and painting schemes as doctrines, biomorphs, wide range of wargear options, and traits were a way to make your army truly unique. I know some people abused this system, as they "math hammered" to make their army the most competitive that it could be, but people are going to do that anyways.
My biggest gripes right now in order
1. Constant reminder that we need to buy models and paints. From store managers, to their website, to white dwarf. I can hardly go into my store now without the manager uncomfortably trying to get me to purchase new models, when I have easily spent over $500 the past eight months. I am waiting for 6th ed. Deal with it. White Dwarf is more like a Macy's catalogue now than a legit hobby magazine has half of it is just picture and articles gushing about new products.
2. Complete disregard for long established fluff. The sadness I feel for the fluff/backstory is great. You aren't buying models and painting them just to have them, you are doing it for the experience. Games Workshop needs to realize that.
3. Price increases and marketing techniques. Can't say how much I dislike where we are going here. The company is doing poorly right now because everyone knows 6th is coming out, and even the people who didn't know this do now because the 5th ed rulebook has been pulled. Why are we waiting so long? Why no confirmation? Simple, they want people to keep buying models instead of waiting for 6th (particularly AoBR). You know they are increasing prices now because they want players to get into a buying frenzy before 6th ed by jacking up prices right before 6th ed but after 5th ed has been pulled. This mentality is essentially creating two waves of "must buy" First: "I must buy this model or else prices will go up, even though I don't want to buy anything until I see the 6th ed rulebook first. Guess I have to spend the money anyways" and the 2nd wave at the release date: "I must buy stuff for 6th ed, its a new edition after all. Then another 3rd wave in september when the new box set comes out.
I just wish Games Workshop stop blatantly trying to make $$$ off of us. I am fine with corporate profit and I want the company to do well, but right now I think they have lost the idea of what makes 40k fun. Not the models or the paints but the experience. The world around you. Right now when you walk into a store, new players and vets feel like its a sales pitch, rather than a true welcoming.