By Justin “JCov” Covington
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.