A STO vanity store would be selling stuff individually rather than in packs.
I don't see how that makes a difference. The quality or quantity of the items is irrelevant. And the items are grouped for convenience's sake.
Non the less, they were still items that appealed to the vanity of the player. Even the ships, for the most part, were that way. They did give a slight
advantage, but it was totally negligible and could easily be compensated for with skill--you even told me you preferred using the standard AV Escort to the MVAM.
Most people buy the current ships to be/look different form others (i.e. vanity).
But these new ships (especially collectively) go well beyond that. They are total faceroll cheese and skill can only go so far. In fact, they'll probably only promote laziness and poor play.
I'm not going to go further in depth on vanity models since it doesn't really factor into our discussion. All I'll say is that most companies don't go for a pure 100% vanity model. Instead, most game companies (even Zynga) sells items that offer varying degrees of vanity and performance. And players buy items not just for vanity, but also for better performance.
In fact, every F2P game ended up in a situation where people pretty much had to pay if they wanted the best gear.
In some cases, it's a content thing. Turbine, for example, likes to make you pay for the new stuff. In LotRO, you just had to pay a strait up fee to unlock the dungeons. In DDO, you got normal and hard for free. You had to pay for elite and epic (where all the purple stuff was).
PWE has traditionally done it with some kind of in-game customization mechanic. For example, a new dungeon comes out and you run it over and over with your mage until the kickass purple staff drops. You win roll and be on your merry way. But that's only HALF the battle, because said staff is weaker out of the box than the green one you picked up 10 levels ago and customized.
So now you have two options: you can whip out the credit card, make a few clicks, and instantly have the best fire crits on the server, OR you can spend hours and hours (probably twice as long as it took to get the damn thing in the first place) grinding out the stuff you need to make it equally as powerful.
Since they can't really introduce a new mechanic into the game, I figure they'll do it via crafting.
Say they launch of set of STFs that, instead of the Borg tech you get a recipes for each of the items and special unique mats to use in conjunction with the regular Tier 6 and Rare mats and of course the ones you buy with dilithium.
It would just be that the # of special unreplicable materials you'd need would cost several weeks' worth of 8k a day grinding. So people would be tempted to just buy some with c-points.
I now have a better understanding of your perspective. And from your perspective as a player you're right that if you want epic items, it ultimately requires an investment of both money and time.
A game developer on the other hand would say the main service they offer players is fun, interesting and exciting gameplay and that any epic items that a player gains is a consequence of playing the game well. So to game devs, what the player is paying for is a fun gaming session, not epic items.
That is why Turbine sells adventure packs for both LOTRO and DDO. They're selling the players an adventure in new and exotic places. And if they do well in the adventure, reward them for their efforts.
As for Cryptic, I still view them as a company that mainly cater to casual players. As an example, after many years and many many petition from players for more, CoH still only has ONE single endgame raid encounter. STO does not even have a single raid encounter and 95% of the missions are soloable. In contrast, SOE and Blizzard are what I consider as companies who cater to hardcore players. That is why EQ, EQ2, WoW all offers a large variety of endgame raid encounters demanding 30+ players coordinating an attack.
If STO were operated by SOE or Blizzard, I would completely agree with you because SOE/Blizzard will sell us the Odyssey, then require us to play the game to unlock advanced Odyssey features.
For Cryptic, I see the 3 Odyssey variants as Cryptic's attempt at giving casual players a solid starship so that they can have fun in STFs and in the process earn some money. So no, I think all players will need to do is pay 2000 c-store points and the Odyssey is theirs. There is nothing more to unlock.