By Dan Nockels
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.