It will start with PvP but it's only a matter of time before it spills over into PvE. And it won't be Cryptic driving it, per say, but players.
Eventually, it will get to the point where it will become a sort of unwritten rule for pugs and pre-made pugs. That will slowly snowball into a disaster.
But even that doesn't matter because people will inevitably fall in line. People may not call themselves, min/maxers, but anyone who has ever participated in endgame content in any MMO is to some degree.
Everybody has at some point browsed the interwebz for new build ideas to help them in whatever endgame they're trying to conquer. Those ideas always begin with min/maxers.
And there's also always a key, theme element to them. Yesterday, for example, it was an MVAM. Tomorrow it will be an Odyssey. The former was not nearly as ubiquitous because the advantage it gave over other ships was no where near as obvious. With the latter, however, it eventually going to get to the point EVERY endgame build is an Odyssey. And people will eventually fall in line to the point where at least four ships in any random pug are one.
There has and will always be FOTM builds. And they're just that - current favorites and they change with time. I really don't see any connection between players blindly following favorite builds that requires paying c-store points and the end of STO as we know it.
Lets say that the Bugatti Veyron is the fastest and most badass car in the world. Is everybody in a Bugatti Veyron or a top of the line sports car from Porche/Ferrari/Lamborgini?
Champions Online is a good example. F2P players get access to a base set of archtype heroes. Guess what? If you pay c-store points for elite archtypes, your hero is going to outperform one using the base archtype. So is everyone using an elite archtype? No. Are there groups who reject players using the free archtype? Some, but the vast majority don't care so long as the player with the free archtype is able to contribute to the group.
In many ways, I see STO ship classes and CO hero archtypes as very similar things. They both offer players a foundation upon which to build their ideal ship/hero. The player is still required to collect powerful weapons and what nots to turn this foundation into a powerful ship/hero.
But I think the more important issue is that this shows Cryptic isn't really satisfied with the pay = vanity model, and once they get a taste, they're going to go nuts. Book it.
I am new to STO, I have no idea if Cryptic has ever used the term "vanity model". However, the STO c-store isn't a store based on the vanity model. A STO vanity store would be selling stuff individually rather than in packs. The store would filled with thousands of individual stuff like:
TOS Comm badge - 25 c-points
TNG Comm badge - 25 c-points
DS9 Comm badge - 25 c-points
Engineer Corps Comm badge - 25 c-points
Science Comm badge - 25 c-points
Starfleet Command Comm badge - 25 c-points
DS9 Jacket - 100 c-points
DS9 Inner sweat shirt - 100 c-points
DS9 Pants - 100 c-points
DS9 Boots - 50 c-points
Bajoran Militia Shirt - 100 c-points
Bajoran Vedek Robe - 150 c-points
Sovereign Class Saucer - 600 c-points
Sovereign Class Hull - 600 c-points
Sovereign Class Warp Nacelles - 400 c-points
Sovereign Class Pylons - 400 c-points
I can almost guarantee that it won't be long before the next gear set comes out that will be significantly better than the MACO/OMEGA, and dilithium will be required to buy it.
And I can absolutely guarantee that it won't happen. Any MMO developer knows that the absolute best gear has to be purchased through hard work and hard work alone. That's why we have to constantly run STFs, collecting EDCs and prototype techs just to get those rare Mk XIs.
I have seen the 3 proposed Odyssey variants and I am not sure they're the ideal ship for everybody. The way I see it, what these new Odyssey ships offer is a stronger hull, more console slots and some special consoles that would be overpowering in PvP.
Does the new Odyssey appeal to players who think DPS is king? Resounding yes. Does it appeal to absolutely everybody? Probably not. I know my science officer would have some difficulty fitting her bridge officer's skillset with the science Odyssey and have to sacrifice some key abilities.