Is it just me, because I have noticed that with the recent LEGO bricks and mini figures they have many many more cracks. Especially on the sides of their torso. I have noticed that specific (newish) brands have a higher chance of cracking. Does anyone know?
Since none of us here officially represents The Lego Company, the only possible answer at this moment (if I take your question literally) is "no". We don't know whether TLC has introduced a change in the manufacturing process, if such a modification was made in order to reduce costs, and if such a modification could have resulted in sub-par quality bricks.
The phenomenon you describe can be a result of a deliberate modification in the production process, an honest accidental mistake at one of the manufacturing facilities, or even might be a textbook case of confirmation bias, and it is quite hard to differentiate between these without auditing the relevant factories and your experiences.
The only ones capable of giving an official answer would be the customer support team at Lego, but I guess they would just tell you that they strive to provide their valued customers with the highest quality bricks, and they sorry, but they can't disclose exact manufacturing steps or financial decisions. But they might offer to replace your cracked bricks, or at least might appreciate feedback, so I think you should write them a detailed message about your experience.
Interesting question. My son's MineCraft Zombie figures have developed cracks in them. Surprised the heck out of us as he treats them no differently than other figures. Confirmation of your hypothesis is anecdotal, the problem may be in the design not material. Either way it is not the usual Lego quality so we stay away from MineCraft.
I have 2 lego keychains, and in a few weeks, the legs are already mis-shaped and caved in. I think they are trying to save money by making their products not as strong as before.
This is rare, even though I have had some older Lego plates crack right down the middle.
I would just suggest to not try to remove plates at angles as this could cause the cracking.