By Justin G.
Being mainly a console gamer, I do not really know too much about playing MMOs. The only MMO that I’ve played (unless you count Starcraft, Diablo 2, or CoD4) is LOTRO. But I think I can write about this topic anyway.
The quality of the narrative in games is decided by many different factors. There is, of course, the backstory (LOTRO has a huge advantage there). But there are also other facets of games that cannot be ignored. Corporations that own these games have to keep the games up to date in terms of graphics, combat, and PvP action, among other things. Truly the only entity that would be able to maintain all of these things (have many people in different divisions working nearly 24/7) would be a large corporation.
However, a corporation can have a negative effect on the narrative in some ways. The best example is Sony Online’s egregious offense of simplifying the game Star Wars Galaxies. In that case, the company was looking to increase profit and overlooked many things: the outrage of veteran gamers at losing all their accomplishments and skills, their own lack of sense in not testing the new system, and the fact that the new game was just not good. There are probably more example of the clumsiness of corporate ownership of MMOs and how they do not satisfy the gamers, but that’s all I can think of off the top of my head.
Basically, corporations are a necessary evil for MMOs. They may hinder the narrative sometimes (and ban people for what seems to be no reason), but without them the narrative would not exist. We, the gamers, give the corporations money, and in exchange the corporations keep the game running smoothly (most of the time).