New World is finally cracking down on 'shell companies' to stop players from monopolizing the fun

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Amazon's MMO New World (opens in new tab) enables players to create and join companies—basically the same thing as guilds—which confer various benefits to members: Money, access to services, that sort of thing. As with most player-run videogame organizations, they almost immediately resulted in trouble. Players who weren't part of large companies were largely excluded (opens in new tab) from the game's ballyhooed PvP wars, while those who were in the club quickly set about screwing each other (opens in new tab) out of huge amounts of gold.

Another, less overt company-related problem has also been causing headaches, and it's not the sort of thing you'd associate with videogames: The scourge of shell companies. In the real world, a shell company is one that exists entirely on paper and often for nefarious purposes like tax evasion or money laundering. In New World, well, it's basically the same thing, and it's been a problem for a long time.

"There seems to be a serious issue with shell companies on our server," redditor IYELLVALHALLA (opens in new tab) wrote back in May. "That is: a company that makes other small companies with 5 or so members so that they can hold multiple territories and have different siege times. So no other companies can split their forces to even have a chance in taking those territories."

"They don't only lead the wars but the whole server," EasternWolverine348 said in reply. "On my server, 2-3 big companies own everything under shell companies. The only territories that are somewhat taken care of are WW and EF. These are the only territories with some buffs (1 or 2 ) the others are only hale and hearty. These companies don't care about invasion, don't pay taxes, don't upgrade the towns just the fort. They also make it that everything is super pricy on the market by buying the whole thing and putting it back for a lot more."

In its newest update (opens in new tab), Amazon Game Studios said it's finally making some changes to tackle the problem. "The first one we're doing is a 'company leave cooldown'," game designer Rachel Barnum said. "So for 72 hours after you leave a company, you won't be able to participate in any territory control activities with another company ... We want to prevent that. It's not really how we intended that gameplay to be made."

Developers are also placing a limit on the number of mercenaries companies can hire to join their efforts, so that companies will be forced to do their own heavy lifting. And to ensure that the same people aren't hogging all the fun, accounts will also be limited to one offensive and one defensive war per day, per game world. 

"Our goal is to allow more people to participate in war, and not to have a small group of people be able to control multiple, multiple territories," creative director David Verfaillie said. "Hopefully these make meaningful changes, and if not, we'll make some more."

Today's update also touches on changes coming to crafting and town projects, and offers a look at the New World development roadmap for 2023, which you can see below.

(Image credit: Amazon Game Studios)
Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.