I want you to first read ColCorbane article on From the Warp. In this article titled GW scenery bad for the hobby is something I had not considered before.
After reading the article I though a lot about the topic. Questions that came to mind were some of the following.
Is it good there is a familiar standard of terrain? no matter where you play in world? Are the terrain making skills of those new to the hobby not being developed or just postponed till they are truly motivated to create something unique?
Does GW continue expand its Scenery products to more race specific and/or unique?
Will competitors of similar scale games make scenery products to rival the popularity of GW's?
As I though about these questions and those posed in the original article I came to a couple personal opinoins. To answer ColCorbane
question "it all going to to be "Ultramarine" flavored in the end?" I would yes with and asterisk. That asterisk is if competitors decide to make quality kits such as GW's. I do not see the tables commonly found in game store or more home gaming tables being custom in the future. I already see this as the "norm" in my opinion. Their kits are generic enough to use for many gaming systems and detailed enough to display their quality. They are also an extremely easy to use kit(s). The pro's for using these scenery kits tend to outweigh doing custom work yourself or purchasing some competitor's product. It also doesn't help the case for competitors that GW has the largest market share for tabletop games of its type.
To the over arching question of "Are hobby skills being not being developed/lost for doing custom scenery work?" My opinion is this is somewhat true. I feel a great many will never develop the skills to make great custom scenery. The first reason is scenery is secondary to building the armies for so many. I am not one of those people (I feel I'm in the minority) as I have more scenery than models. When I see pictures of games I check out the scenery first to get ideas. On the other side I think because the hobby has grown so much over the past 10 years there are more individuals that have those scenery skills. As the hobby continues to grow standards have risen on scenery. Those determined will always create fantastic custom scenery. I can not remember 10, 5, or even 2 years ago seeing the level of custom work that I have seen recently in person or the internet now. Can you?
I do think that GW scenery has elevated the quality of our gaming tables and will continue to do so. My hope is that GW scenery and their competitors products become the "norm". This will in turn I hope inspire/give incentive for more custom work for any number of reasons.