Corporate ownership’s effect on a game’s quality varies depending on the game and owner. For example, I would argue that the corporate ownership in Diablo II provides a player with an enjoyable experience, because I have enjoyed the game myself. It varies from player to player as well then. The only problem with corporate ownership may be the indirect means of communication with the players, as most interaction within the gamespace occurs amongst gamers.
There is a responsibility by the corporate owner to “please everyone.” The ultimate goal of the corporations is to make the most money by pleasing the most possible subscribers and make the most people buy the game. This has a good effect on the quality of the game if one is a member of this majority. Otherwise, the game might be less than desirable and there is nothing that the corporate ownership can do to help. This draws on the indirectness of the corporate owners and the players as there is no ideal way to directly communicate one’s isolated status from the group who enjoys the game. Owners attempt to patch games to help appeal to players, but we have seen in games like Star Wars: Galaxies that this can have an opposite effect in which veteran players who have become adjusted to old standards. Corporate owners have a tough time making these decisions but in this case a decision to try and help draw profit from a larger majority made the loyal gamers quit. Being a corporate owner proves to be the more difficult job than the whiney gamer who wants a game to suit him or her perfectly. Therefore, of course it limits experience, the game is through the eyes of the owner and not of the subjective desires of oneself.
Without a doubt the corporate ownership of an MMO effects the narrative experience. To what extent? Corporate ownership of MMOs makes the online gaming experience of a narrative, as we know it possible.
Without the massive resources and commitment of the corporation the MMO would not be stable or cohesive. The grandeur of the spectacle and lack of bugs in an MMO does not necessarily influence narrative qualities of the game but they substantially influence the remediation of a story. If the story were told in a contained environ them MMO would be no different than a regular video game.
Without the constant pressure of market forces, which act on corporations pushing them to improve their product so that it appeals to more people, Moms might quickly become stagnant. Absent this drive there is no reason to expand the world of the MMO and thus deepen the story. In order to appeal to a larger audience different MMOs have taken different routs. WoW expanded on its PvP aspect and added a cadre of new features regularly via patches and expanded the narrative in the expansion.
None of those things were done for any reason other than profit but they still improved the narrative experience of the consumer. Blizzard isn’t sacrificing its capital in order to create and maintain a game for the player enjoyment. The same way that a player isn’t sacrificing his monthly fee so that Blizzard can make rent this month. The only reason for a corporation or a person to do something is because they are both greedy; the person wants the game and the corporation wants the cash-money. In this case greed is good, it pushes the narrative to bold new places.
It should be noted that corporations can do it wrong such was that case with SOE when they “stupided up” Star Wars Galaxies. However with the massive exodus away from Galaxies we can see why they are motivated NOT to do stupid things. People don’t like stupid things. If you do stupid things people won’t buy from you. No money makes SOE cry. The system works.
For the readers out there (all three of you who are reading this instead of “World of Sexcraft?”) who doubted that these posts are assignments for a college class, here’s today’s assigned topic: “does corporate ownership of a MMO affect the narrative experience?” Yikes! Looks like we might actually learn something today. Thinking caps on, everyone…
In order to answer this question, it seems necessary to consider the alternative to corporate ownership of an MMO. If the game is not corporately owned, an individual or a small group of people is probably privately running it. Eventually, the computers themselves may run the games (just think: The Matrix Online meets The Matrix), but for now a human hand must be on the rudder of the game world.
With this in mind, how does a corporately run game differ in terms of narrative experience from one run by a single game master, possibly with the help of a small cadre of associates (the phrase “cadre of associates” makes the game’s rulers sound like James Bond villains, doesn’t it?). I don’t think that the mode of ownership makes a major difference in the narrative experience of a game, assuming “narrative experience” is defined as the interactions between players of a game and the game’s fiction. Games run by either power structure will have some kind of story for the player to progress through by interacting with a fictional game world. Both types of online overlord will take steps to keeps players playing within the rules, and while corporations have more resources to devote to this task, they also tend to have a larger player base, so the effect is likely to be the same. Due to the same advantage in resources, a corporately owned game is more likely to see regular updates and added content than a privately run MMO, but this only creates new narrative experiences rather than affecting the experience that exists. A game that was created by one person acting alone may be more sensitive to the tides of its players’ opinions, but its creator might also be even more resistant to change than a corporation since the game is the vision of that single person. Obviously, exceptions to all of the statements that I’ve made exist, but I think that who is running the game makes little difference when strictly speaking of the game’s narrative.
So, in the words of Forrest Gump, “That’s all I have to say about that.” Hopefully we’ll have more fun next week (looking at the syllabus, I see sex is involved. This bodes well.)
Does corporate ownership of an MMO affect the quality of one’s narrative experience? I have not played MMOs before, however, based on my experience with LoTRO, I should admit that corporate ownership does affect our narrative experiences, but not necessarily in a bad way.
Both gamers (consumers) and companies (suppliers) are important parts of the world called MMO RPGs. Companies provide a service while we, gamers, purchase the service with monthly subscriptions. We all work to benefit from the labor. Players play to receive pleasure or a sense of achievement and companies work for monetary benefits. Sometimes companies have to make amendments in order to protect their product or to increase their profit, even when those changes would significantly change current virtual societies and their rules. As a result of these changes people often lose their properties that they feel emotionally attached to. However, we should also admit that while we feel an emotional attachment to the items, gold and hard-earned experience points within the game, the creators of MMOs also care about their products. They control the games in order to preserve the game and its initial ideas or purposes. Furthermore, not all changes made by companies ruin the narrative experience of gamers. Companies often provide expansions, new quests or new systems of game-playing, such as deeds of LoTRO, which make our virtual life even more engaging and exciting.
Corporate ownership of an MMO affects the quality of one’s experience and sometimes the result of this influence is not desirable. However, we should not think that the companies abuse their power in order to ruin our virtual experiences. They are just trying to enhance our narrative experiences, even though the result is not always beneficial. Still, we should appreciate their work and their eagerness to bring excitement to our lives.
In Final Fantasy XI, just about every high-level player, myself included, agrees that RMTs are trash. RMTs (real money traders), or gil-sellers, as we called them in FFXI, caused us legit players many problems. First of all, some of the “ Notorious Monsters”, extra strong monsters that drop valuable items, that players camped for their gear were unjustly monopolized 24/7 by RMTs that utilized illegal bot programs to instantly lay claim to the mob as soon as it appeared. These RMTs would then take the items the NM dropped and sell it on the auction house and could essentially control the price of said item since many of the items are exclusive to certain NMs. This made it incredibly hard for some players to get the gear they needed simply because they would be forced to wait until the RMT left the camp or instead fuel the RMT by buying the item on the auction house at the inflated price. Without the right gear, it is hard for players to get into a decent party to level up and experience more of the narrative through missions.
The frustration continues since the gil that the gil-sellers accrue go onto eBay where many novice players can essentially buy their way into the best gear possible. In some games, this isn’t as big a deal, but in FFXI, when a player doesn’t do their job right, it greatly hinders the entire party. Many of these novice players don’t take the time to understand how to play their respective jobs and expect to coast along on uber-gear to the high levels. A similar dilemma occurs when new players buy accounts so that they begin at the maximum level with no clue as to how to play their job. Those of us that worked for our levels have spent countless hours in the game and know everything about the jobs we play. In a game like FFXI where you really can’t accomplish anything solo, you need to have a full party or alliance where everyone knows exactly what to do. When one or a few players have no experience with their jobs, the party fails, even if the players have amazing gear.
I really am glad that there are admins and GMs in FFXI. Corporate ownership of the game makes it harder for RMTs and gil-sellers to exist. The less RMT there is going on, the easier it is for people to enjoy the narrative because the leveling up is easier, the economy is better, and there are fewer high-level players without gameplay experience. Gil-selling undoubtedly still goes on, but when I think about what would happen if there weren’t the mass bannings of RMT accounts and the continual efforts to curb gil-selling, I realize that there would be many many more players with no experience but great gear and high levels. I certainly don’t want more of those because those are the people that make the parties I’m in fail. It certainly ruins the narrative experience when I continually have to repeat certain fights because of one person. I already spend too much time in Vana’diel; I would rather not waste time repeating missions due to lazy rich players.
“Does corporate ownership of a MMO affect the quality of one’s narrative experience?”
I would say so. Because a corporation has as its primary goal the accumulation of lots and lots of $$moolah$$, it embraces almost any opportunity to increase sales. Now, depending on the game being marketed, this motivation can have either a positive or negative effect on the quality of in-game narration or storylines.
For example, in a game whose target audience enjoys more fast-paced action and fewer “interruptions,” a company will increase subscriptions by lowering narrative quality (or removing narration altogether). On the other hand, a company aiming to attract players who enjoy an involved storyline will be motivated to include more creative elements in its game.
In this way, it is in the best interests of an MMO corporation to please the majority of its playerbase. This may not always be evident, because the company must also maintain a stable system of challenges and rewards in order to retain existing subscribers.
As for me, I’m going to try something new today: WordPress poll ! We’ll see if I can make it work. I’m interested to know which type of MMO our readers would/do prefer. Heeeeere goes. . .
Don’t get me wrong, as much as I dislike the idea of some random corporate lacky banning me for body camping some little Mon Calamari twerp, corporations are essential to any large scale narrative driven MMORPG. They have the capital to supply countless servers and numerous technical assistants to maintain a large population and an epic storyline. Corporations can affect MMOs, and for the most part do, in a positive manner. They supply the players this wonderous world that only they could have created and maintained. They have the ability to listen to the player community and quickly update and change the gameplay to their liking. With a big corporation running an MMO like LOTRO, the players can expect new content through patches and expansions on a fairly reasonable timeline. This eliminates the pause in the storyline that can take a player out of the immersive experience. Corporations have the power to facilitate my emotional attachment to any storyline or narrative by making it beautiful, expansive, and free of anomilies such as glitches.
The downside of corporate rule is when their profit maximization strategy comes in to play. This can lead to their governance becoming apparent, thus ruining the narrative experience. The best example is of course Sony Online Entertainment’s Star Wars Galaxies debacle. They had a perfectly good game that had many players enthralled in the beautiful player woven narrative. SOE, however, decided that running this game in the manner that made it popular was not maximizing profit. They did not take up the corporate GM responsibility of listening to the player base. They simply took away their game and gave the players a new one. Talk about ruining a narrative experience…
So yes, corporations affect a narrative in an MMO. This can be good or bad. Slowly the bounds of ownership and rules in these narrative worlds are being tested and defined. This will lead to a better relationship between the corporate gods and their ploebes.