That's my biggest hangup, I suppose. It's not just the future for Nerf, but the overall ideology that's killing creativity. I used to work my butt off using Legos to look like something I had seen. A Star Wars X-Wing, a Time Machine from Back to the Future, heck, I had a Lego "Metal Gear Rex" from Metal Gear Solid that I spent months making. No special parts, just pieces that I had from other sets. But now there's a special lineup for everything with molded parts that create exact replicas of what you would've been stuck trying to make on your own. Thinking for yourself? Naw, that takes too much effort. People want handouts now, and I anticipate Nerf (like everyone else) to be gearing their expanded product lines to cater to that.
On the one hand, yeah it's nice to have neatly organized lineups with matching colors and a style of play in mind. For sports, for style, for search & destroy missions of utmost importance! But on the other, it just seems like they're focusing too much on making specialized blasters for specific roles. If they changed their marketing from "here's what one blaster could do for one thing" to "here's what one blaster could do for a LOT of things", I think it'd open more doors for people to use Nerf for more applications instead of being limited by what the box says.
So where's the Future of Nerf headed? It seems pretty clear that, regardless of what lineup is getting attention or what trend is in that they're just gonna make all sorts of names, colors, and products to fill specific needs. In the end, trying to predict what will happen to N-Strike or Vortex or whatever is pretty much in vain. Would the Fusefire looked better as a Vortex blaster instead of a rebranded Zombie Strike blaster? Perhaps. But I bet you the color of that blaster won't stop someone from using it alongside other Vortex Blasters. Just like how this Crossfire Bow I've got will still be an awesome addition to my dart blaster collection. They'll all get modded, repainted, and utilized by the few folks left who still like being creative.