Stamped concrete won't last forever. Eventually, it will start to crack and break like any other type of concrete. Stamped concrete that is properly installed and sealed can last for decades before it cracks or fades. Like any exterior material, minimal wear and tear over time due to exposure and use is inevitable.
If you lay pavers on a 4-inch thick concrete base, you don't have to worry about weeds, insects, or anything growing through it. You don't have to worry about the pavers shifting and you don't have to worry about concrete cracking because the pavers are on top. Here in the Midwest, where we have freezes and thaws, it's the best way to install cobblestones to make your yard area last 30+ years without any problems. This problem has nothing to do with the sealant.
Those cracks you see are shrinkage cracks. They occur when the concrete surface shrinks rapidly during the initial curing phase. When the concrete surface dries or cures too quickly, the surface shrinks (shrinks) and you end up with these small fine cracks. For more information, read Why Concrete Cracks.
As you've noticed, you can't see the cracks unless the surface is wet. While sun and wind contribute greatly to the problem, another factor leading to crusting is that the concrete may have been finished prematurely and stamping operations started too soon. These occur when 2 sealing mats come together during the stamping process and push a bit of soft concrete between and up where the 2 mats meet. If the integrity of the concrete is suspected, there is not much you can do to stop the destruction of the surface.
While this is good news, this is not the only factor you should consider when it comes to the longevity of stamped concrete. For me, I would never put stamped concrete in my house or in any of my friends' or family's houses. Most companies that install stamped concrete use a combination of past performance, pictured, and small stamped samples when selling new construction. When it starts, the deeper joints molded into the seals push toward the crust, cracking the concrete on both sides of the printed joint.
This rating is made by us because it relates to hundreds of other stamped concrete projects, not just your own. Contractors who specialize in stamped concrete won't mention this, but your yard will look great, sometimes incredible when done by a really good company, for about 3 to 5 years (if you seal it every year). This method can be used before or after the concrete has been sealed, but the residue is often easier to clean if done after sealing. This isn't necessarily an oversight or a mistake, it's simply a risk of being on the concrete when it's still wet.
First of all, your labor demands are much lower than you just need to pour concrete and apply a predetermined pattern. Cracking can be caused by certain weather or temperature conditions, or during curing as moisture evaporates from the new concrete. This is an unusual phenomenon with some concrete slabs and does not necessarily represent any substantial problem, it can only detract from the aesthetics of concrete when it is wet. If you want to know what 12-year-old stamped concrete looks like, go check out the front door area of Nebraska Furniture Mart.