A thought occurred to me recently. In GW2, leather was a raw material that was overly expensive compared to some other stuff, largely because it was needed for a lot of popular armors and could not be mined from the environment like metal and wood, which were always cheaper. So people used to go out and do content against centaurs a lot to get leather, because they drop that.
This made me think about the herd mentality of gamers in general. You don't often see people bucking the trend a lot, they tend to read up about the game, find some guy's internet guide to making IGC, and stick to it.
With that in mind, let's remember that in CoX, you used to be able to set your difficulty to whatever level you wanted, and you could could do a number of different types of content. There was street sweeping, soloing missions, PUGing for missions, doing Task Forces, doing incarnate stuff, etc. And which toon you played made a difference too, as Masterminds could make like WAY more IGC than Defender while soloing, for example.
So imagine someone writes a guide that tells people how to get the most IGC while soloing. People start doing that. Then what happens?
Is that strategy, whatever it is, going to remain the most efficient, even if everyone's doing it that way? Should it?
Imagine if the "best" play style is good, in a vacuum, but maybe it doesn't get you one or two certain items, which you'll then need to buy. But maybe some other game play style DOES get you those items. If that were the case, playing "against the grain" might become equally profitable, or maybe the best return on your time investment ends up thing a thing that changes over time as the market evolves.
Example: Mastermind soloing is really profitable at first, so people start doing that in droves. But that wont get you the type of items that you can get at the end of a TF, some of which are valuable to Mastermind characters. So they pay top dollar for those items so as to be able to solo higher difficulties for better rewards.
Ultimately I think the best thing would be if different play styles yielded different rewards (or the same rewards, but in different statistical likelihoods/ drop rates maybe) in such a way that less popular play styles can yield higher returns for the stuff they generate based on the overall price of the items.
Suppose that in order to make a really good Augment, you need 2 different items. If soloing missions gets you one of them at a much higher rate than the other, then soloers will get a lot of that thing and less of the other. Similarly TFs could give out some reward table at the end for finishing that has the other item as a higher probability.
This way people dedicated to one play style could find value in trading with other players on the market and the herd mentality of "just do X and get paid the best" would probably not be optimal at all times for all people.
R.S.O. of Phoenix Rising