It's not intended as such. 3e just wasn't as big as letting its design guts hang out, I think that transparency just became more normal as game design progressed in the '00s.Kind of a backhand to 3e developers there. I'm not at all sure that 3e devs intended to obscure anything about magic items being intentional, player chosen, power-ups as much as it lived in an evolving space that incorporated easy magic item creation, magic item markets, and the metering of treasure acquisition. The first two reflect long-standing desires in the D&D community that, I suspect, the devs wanted to satisfy. The latter, along with the redesign of many items, reflected more the intention to produced metered power-ups, whether obtained randomly or by player choice, to the PCs rather than irregular spikes.