Personal opinion. With Estes lack of new offerings this year, a lineup of aging models and sky rocketing prices, I don't think they are in a position to be forcing pricing rules on resellers.
I'm a life long Estes fan as they got me started in this hobby more than 35 yrs ago. The last new Estes kit I bought was the Der Big Red Max over a year ago and that kit was huge disappointment with the three piece thin warped balsa fins and self stick decals.
As noted above, the quality/content just isn't there on the more expensive stuff.
A DBRM at $21.99 - I'll buy multiples just because. Treat it as an economical collection of rocket parts and figure out what to build with it later.
A DBRM at $34.## - I'll buy one when I'm ready to build it.
A DBRM at $54.99 - I'll step up to a LOC or something else because the Estes kit "needs" a bunch more money spent on upgrades before I'm satisfied with the quality and content of the finished rocket. Might as well just buy a kit that comes with all that content in the first place. Or scratch build.
Another case study; I've been holding off placing an ACS order until they got more Doorknobs in stock. Passed on buying one from other retailers that were several bucks more because I'm not in any hurry - it's going to sit on the build pile for awhile. Last night, I bought one from Hobbylinc for about $5 more than ACS' price and spread the shipping over a bunch of other stuff I'd been planning to buy, as well as some motors that I can't get anywhere else without paying HAZ. However, after tomorrow, I'm just not going to buy one. I'll build something else. Or scratch build.
The "Pro Series" is far, far from actually being "Pro" content and MSRP is out of line for what you get.
I think it's clear that Estes is back into seeing themselves as the "gateway" company for beginners in the hobby and casual consumers. Toy store shoppers. They're giving up on more knowledgeable enthusiasts and advanced builders. Eliminating diversity of product, not selling parts for scratch builders, etc.
The only thing in the 2023 catalog that has any interest for me is the Great Goblin and that will all come down to what they do with the fins. If they do the multi piece setup like DBRM then I'll be passing on that one as well.
That and the parachute. There's a picture of a black parachute with a Goblin in it. If that's nylon, I might have to be in and find something else do to with the DBRM nose cone and 3-inch BT I have planned to build my own 3-in Goblin. But at $59.99 or something like that with a plastic chute and junk fins, I'm scratch building with a very nice nylon parachute bought somewhere else.