This. So much, this. And that's why there are varying opinions and people asking WHY?$?$?$?All that being said, I don't think "expensive" pickups (or even budget replacement pickups) are worth it to everyone at every level.
And the irony is, those of us who can play well can sound good on beginner guitars, and great on anything over $600.
I'm not looking for tone, I'm looking for expressiveness. I want a pickup that amplifies the inflection of my fingers. A pickup that gives me more control over the amplifier. I will pay for that.
Everyone needs a self-assessment. "Are my pickups holding me back?" Only if they are, is any money worth spending.