It’s only reasonable to talk about the obligations that developers and publishers have when running a game. The designers have an obligation to make the game one that the community is ready to embrace, for example, and the publisher has the obligation to keep the game up and running so long as it is officially running. I’m not happy that NCsoft shuttered City of Heroes, for example, but I’d be much angrier if the game was shuttered and I was still being charged, or if I couldn’t unsubscribe from World of Warcraft when I want to do so.
But the interesting thing is that players have certain obligations as well, and we rarely talk about that. MMORPGs are by their very nature social enterprises, and all of the good work of designers doesn’t mean much if players stomp all over it. You can have player commendations in Final Fantasy XIV, but that means nothing if commendations are bought or if players don’t use the system. You can have complex puzzles in The Secret World, but that doesn’t count for much if people just post the solutions online in five minutes.
So today, that’s our question. What obligations do players have to improve an MMORPG? Are players obliged to police the community? Avoid cheating and discourage cheating tools? Provide assistance to new players? Or should players have no responsibilities, allowing people to do as they wish without community consequence?