As much as I love the ability to render in Maxwell straight form Maya - I believe that the best way is to reduce the complexity of the plugins and rather make them functional exporters for Studio.
There was a time when I thought completely the opposite - now I understand better how most of us work. And I think the best way is to work exactly like Matthew - personally I started doing the same thing - it is a bit a curve to learn but it is definitely taking off pressure from having a fully functional plugin for my host app.
Consider this - majority of CAD apps are not really suited for a convenient rendering workflow anyway. Some apps don't even have the essential UV mapping tools, or IBL workflow, or light targeting, or light filters (like barn doors), emitter blockers, and etc. Why would you want to start rendering workflow inside such app ?
So - instead of having plugins for every app that could benefit from having Maxwell connection - why don't we just have an exporter to the Studio (say, a free plugin) that does one thing - packs your scene and exports it to MXS (with all the goodies) - that's it - no FIRE, no Maxwell Sea, no Grass, scatter - no realflow import - none of those things. Imagine how lightweight this plugin will be.
Development - waaay easier.
In the end - NextLimit will be able to afford to have such "connections" for pretty much any DCC app.
And MAxwel lStore is super simple now - instead of dozens of versions - you now have Studio - that you buy - and free exporter for your host app. That's that.
... and plus render nodes - for the good measure.