How Shell Companies are damaging the Game: An example from my server and why PTR changes not enough

Introduction

Hello readers,

this will be a longer thread about a topic that has been already often discussed diversely, should you search for it in the forum:


Additionally, this specific point is already planned to be adressed by AGS as you can see in the latest dev update [06:59m]:

Some of those proposed changes has already been released on the PTR (company war CD):

But as I have argued on the PTR forum here, the change will not be enough to destroy the oligopol situation on most servers.

Or as this forum post shows well, it won’t change in any way the possibility for a company to take an entire server hostage. This scenario is btw to some degree, what Fresh Servers will look like shortly after release and I will get back to the possible bad consequences later.



Discussion

  • Shell Companies have existed since the start of the game and they keep existing till this day. Their continuing existence damages the game health drastically, especially for those player that want to go further than just solo PvP. (Hypothesis)

So, based on that there are many simple question, we have to address first:

  1. What are Shell companies and why do they exist in the first place?
  2. How are they disrupting the game and what damage is produced?
  3. Is their existence fair or rather do they violate the NW Code of Conduct?

Extra: How Shell Companies will destroy Fresh Servers - a prediction.



Shell Companies on my Server:

The following arguments will mainly use my own EU server as physical example with the names of the companies hidden, since this topic is merely for representation of the problem and readers are open to share their own server situation with shell companies themselves.

I will write a short introduction for my server state, which also be seen as a neutral example, when shell companies are ‘okay’ and when they are bad or damaging, the above written questions will be answered following this text part.

Map of my current EU Server:

Additional Information:

  • B. (Syndicate Company) holds Everfall, Brightwood & Ebonscale.
    What I like regarding this company, is that they seem to use more of a subsidiary company system then there just be 1 person in each of their other companies.
    This example of a ‘shell company’ would be a case, where it is not completely damaging and actually ‘okay’, since they also pay upkeep in all their territory to keep all stations on T5.

  • E…S (Marauder Company) holds Weaver’s Fen.
    Well, the perfect example of a Shell Company with 1-5 members that can often mean a single person in it. But holding territory itself is no crime - Veni, vidi, vici! But,

What do we have here? This is picture is not trying to represent the degrading of stations after a war. Weaver’s was completely on T5 stations as all of the cities on our server till recently. So, why are there multiple T4 and even T3 stations in Weaver’s now?

Because the shell company didn’t bother to pay upkeep and I can assure that due to the housing alone, Weaver’s produce way enough wealth to have keep everything on T5.

This is a very good example for the greed and shamelessness of some of those shell companies, that don’t bother about their secondary regions letting it downgrade, but still unwilling to give the territory up, since it produces income. Nothing completely wrong on this if you read the ToS, but the reader should ask himself if this is okay. Especially, if this occur on multiple regions on a server.


Now, let’s look at another extreme case from my server:

I will ignore the H…E (Convenant Company) [EV, Reek], since it doesn’t add much to what has alrady been said. So, let’s look at this or rather these two companies named G…K IV (Convenant) [FL] or rather G…K VI (Marauder) [Restless]. Huh?

Interestingly, their names sound very similar, don’t they? But how can this be, since they are on two different factions… Well, this case I am showing is meant to represent shell companies that are spread on different factios. So not just having shell companies to allow a different siege timer, but in fact splitting them between factions.

Well, I did a bit of research and is rather sth else the case. The clan seek to change factions and because of the faction change CD, they are currently split between factions. And what? This is nothing else than just an excuse. The fact that some companies can do this should by itself actually punishable.

Since, what do you think, from WHO the Convenant new main company got FL?? Exactly, they TOOK IT from themselves, what can be said in some way being a form of win-trading. This like the Weaver’s Fen example shows very good, how this shell company system deserves its entire destruction, something the PTR change won’t accomplish at all.


Now, the last and if someone thinks a bit more deeply most serious case I have yet seen:

What is new regarding this PA… (Marauder) and shell companies [Cutlass, Monarch, Mourningdale], that I haven’t singled out yet? Well, they also refuse to pay upkeep on some of their conquered territory like the company from Weaver’s Fen. So now the main question is, where does the money go?

I mean, why let the company and the shell companies that holds territory have very few members? Do they transfer the earned gold from the territory to the main company? One may assume this.

But let’s take this a bit further: Who would be able to control (accounting), what is done with the specific gold from the territories beside the 3-15 people in the shell companies of PA? Yes, you got it, it becomes almost impossible from the governing book in the city’s main hall or even from the money that is in the main company’s guild bank to make a call on that.

Well, it is normal for the company to hold some money back to pay the officials running the comp or to invest it in gear for its members. Yet, there is another dark or one may say ‘gray activity’ that can be done with the money earned in those territory. And this is especially easy for Shell Companies with few ‘witnesses’ that may create evidence.

I am not accusing any company of doing so if having shell companies, but I greatly would argue that the shell company system GREATLY encourages RMT and makes it a lot easier to conduct. But RMT itself is a more complex topic that shouldn’t be discussed here and I seek to focus more to the overall damage from shell companies to the game.



Summary

Going back to the main questions this may feel like a repetition of the former text part, but this will be meant as a summary and introduction into the conclusion:

  1. What are Shell companies and why do they exist in the first place?
  2. How are they disrupting the game and what damage is produced?
  3. Is their existence fair or rather do they violate the NW Code of Conduct?

Extra: How Shell Companies will destroy Fresh Servers - a prediction.


  1. What are Shell companies and why do they exist in the first place?
  • Shell Companies is the usage of an additional company to either allow one to have a better chance to receive a war upon declaration or to allow one having separate siege timer, so that one can more easily hold several territories with the same 50-top man roster. Additionally, in some cases they may be used as secondary banks should the main guild’s gold inventory be full.

  • To be concise, they exist to avoid restrictions input by the game like the siege timer that forces a company to split their forces if defending several territory or the RNG attributed to war declaration.


  1. How are they disrupting the game and what damage is produced?
  • The game is meant to be fun. Holding territory or war itself try to produce a player created/influence map, where only the strongest prevail. But the siege timer restrict the ability to fight multiple wars with the main roster, so that conquering the entire map becomes almost impossible. That is how it was meant to be in theory.

  • But to avoid those restriction and hold as much territory as wanted, shell companies are created, so that the same 50 people can in theory control an entire 2.500 people server. This spoken from a neutral perspective, clearly is not, how they territory ownership or war system was meant to be and disrupts the game design. Because companies that also would like to enter the fight for territory are severely restricted by maybe having to fight the best 50 from a faction in a war.

  • Additionally, I will explain the damage with an image:

This shows the current standings of the La Liga (football) league. So, let’s take for example Real Madrid, which keeps winning and being at the top for decades and on the opposite let’s look at the rather not-known Cadiz team.

Being at the top of the league gives you access to exponentially higher income from sponsors, TV payment or access to higher competitions, while being at the bottom part of the table puts you into the opposite position.

  • Now back to NW, there are governing companies and there are non-governing companies. You have on one-side those that earn +1-3 Million Gold through their territories and on the other side those that earn zero in idle state. Surely, skill matters a lot in wars, but gear and access to trainers and everything else that top governing companies currently may offer, cannot be compared to the situation of a non-governing company.

  • So, what I mean to say, that it is very difficult for Cadiz to ever reach the point of Real Madrid, not matter how great their players are, because the opportunities offered to RM from their top position greatly favors them allowing for very difficult toppling them. The same situation is been reached on top servers.

  • And I am not denying that top companies that use shell companies have no skill… They earned their position at some point. But the current system, put them so much in favor that many won’t even bother trying to capture a territory or joining a company with such goals. And this slowly but surely damages the game greatly in my opinion.


  1. Is their existence fair or rather do they violate the NW Code of Conduct?
  • So, what does the Code of Conduct says regarding this? Nothing specifically, but:


  • I disagree strongly with calling shell companies as cheating. It is true that as in the CoC stated, Shell companies
  • do “disrupt the enjoyment of the game for others”
  • do “exploit unintended uses of game features [siege timers]”
  • do “give an unfair advantage”
  • BUT, they exist since launch and if you use the search function, one can clearly see the hundred of posts created on this matters. So, what did AGS do the last year regarding this? Nothing.

  • So, there was never a statement made or after analyzing it, it was made the conclusion that the shell company system is more of a gray zone, that uses just the available tools provided by the game. My opinion is that its not cheating at all, but the damage created by it as explained several times in this post are too great to take this in anyway lightly. The latter is what is being done with the lax changes to wars in the PTR. They are not enough to make the game more fairer!

  • And yes, Shell Companies are not fair at all. Winning wars should reward you the territory, nobody would argue with that or that skill should be the primary basis for a win, but that should not result in complete domination and almost impossibility to kick companies from their governing position besides by other governing companies. There should be at least a existing chance for non-governing companies like attacking two of the companies territory or all three in the case of all siege-timer being in the same period. That is, what wars should be like or rather the company ownership system (gold earned is another topic by itself).



Conclusion

The Shell Company System has to be destroyed entirely. There is no problem in having subsidary companies as the B. (Syndicate) case from my server, but 1-Person Territory holding Companies should just not exist if we want a fair game, where every company has at least a fighting chance on taking on a territory onself.

Therefore, the PTR change won’t be enough at all at accomplishing this.

This Company War CD is a good start and making war declaration fairer, but this won’t change the situation on the map itself or as I said. A top governing (Real Madrid level) company will not lose territory to a (Cadiz level) company in defending their shell company’s territory.

So, this only address one part of the formula. We also have to look at the situation on the ground (current server maps). So, what would be a simple fix?

Many ideas have been made on this as War Exhaustion (limiting war participation weekly), extension of the Company War CD to 7 days + banning defending war participation in that period and many others. So in my opinion it is rather AGS following the feedback already made and extending their response to shell company, seeing how I glimpsed here the severity of the issue.

A personal idea contribution would be to just add a CD to company changes: Why should you be even able to change companies more often in 5-7 days? Faction change has a CD, so why not just add a CD to company change next to the War CD? This and adding defensive wars to the War CD, should greatly contribute in tackling the shell company system and adding some badly needed fairness to the territory ownership system.



End

That’s all from my side on this topic and I thank the readers that made it to here, but especially a big thanks to Devs for their great work and realizing that shell companies are a problem to be adressed.

If you have made experiences with shell companies on your own server, feel free to share it in the comments. Also write your critiscm on what I wrote or the entire topic, since both sides should be heard on this.

45 Likes

I’d assume the current War & influence restrictions on leaving a company is only partially implemented, they mentioned an “in house” requirement specifically for defensive war rostering slots

Unless someone drops a war on PTR to find out what that number required is, we don’t know, or we wait for the DEV BLOG

If we know their solution we can poke holes in it.

A limited war attendance system combined with these company swap CD should be enough to stop shells

2 Likes

Overreaction entirely. They already addressed that they were floating a number of company members required on the defense (at least 30 but probably more). That means that you can realistically hold 2 territories under the same siege window and company with enough members in your company. Shell companies can still exist to a certain extent but only if they are willing to risk having half of their company in 2 separate companies that can lead to a whole number of problems

1 Like

You mixing up shell company and subsidiary company.

There is no problem with the latter existing as shown in the example with company B., but shell company on the other side that are sth completely else, should be removed from the game entirely for the above named reasons.

I know about the 35-40 man needed for the warring company on the PTR, but found no clear evidence of it being actually implemented, so keep that out. Nonetheless, it won’t remove the factor of companies still be capable of defending the territories of their shell companies if the War CD stays the same. PTR changes are not enough.

1 Like

We cannot keep it out because it’s required to fully nullify the problem, as you’re pointing out

Wait for the dev blog they’ve mentioned and a better understanding of the required in house war rostering requirements.

It’s currently 35 on the PTR, but feedback sounds like it may settle on 40.

1 Like

Is that from datamine or did someone drop a war to find out?

Because 35 defensive or offensive or what are the terms?

If it’s 35 defensive, that completely solves shells imo, meaning you can hold 2 territories using 70 inhouse members and 30 mercenaries.

If I remember correctly, in the dev video they mentioned the number 35.

Just make under 30 people companies unable to declare war and a big cd like 1months+ after you left company

4 Likes

I have also been saying the ‘war vanguard / company cooldown’ is not enough.

There needs to be a flat out account (character) bound cooldown for wars. As in X character can only do a single war per night. Or if the servers are popping and everyone is getting access to at least one war maybe a second…Or a fixed number of wars a week so the company holding has to plan what they want to hold or not. Bottom line the changes wont be enough…

If AGS devs tried to participate in wars they would understand the biggest problem is accessibility. Shells contribute to this problem exponentially bc as your company takes more terris more people want to join making it easier to monopolize the map and reducing the available pool of pvp players to recruit from.

AGS sees shells ruining servers and thinks ‘oh no, we need to merge this server its dead now’ without recognizing the root problem of what killed it. The answer will almost always be shells or mega companies reducing competition or accessibility to wars.

One day all the devs will be fired OR they will actually try new world and maybe we will get some decent updates that people have been asking for since release. Until then I guess were just stuck with deaf and dumb devs. Sadge.

5 Likes

Just quit the game. Thats the only way they will change anything.

3 Likes

Para on top

1 Like

How are they not addressing exactly what you’ve put into question with the need to have at least 30+ players from the company holding the territory in the war while giving it a 3d cd to switch companies?
Pretty much everything you explained is fixed by that already. You get at least 30 ppl per company that have to sit in it and care for whatever territory they’re holding that being paying upkeep, upgrading or putting up buffs.
The only thing I could think of is the upkeep getting deducted from the income automatically in some way to completely stop ppl from not paying it but let’s face it, paying 150k for weavers upkeep while it makes 80k is not something ppl will do unless something changes.

1 Like

They said minimum 35, as high as 50 to defend.

I want to see 50 required to defend. With the cooldown this would force players to stay in company if they want war.

But what i’m seeing looks like it will make a difference. The shell dec sniping being off the table will prevent a whole lot of the problem. In house requirements will be dangerous for companies that want to spread too thin.

Guess we’ll see how it plays out :slight_smile:

2 Likes

The proposed changes dont do anything to make war a more inclusive experience- if anything, theyre just making it more exclusive.

Dont want to join one of the top companies on a server or start your own?

Youll never get in a war now.

The chances were already really slim,
but at least theres a chance.

2 Likes

I think the changes are a step in the right direction, but I am skeptical they will work long term. I have already seen groups power leveling that very much appear to be alts for existing companies. Those companies which already have all the wealth and power will have no problems gearing those players up.

This is good for AGS – more copies sold – but only moves the issue into a different direction.

So, what you are saying is orofena has 100 pros and 2400 losers? Or am i misunderstanding something.

Because what it looks like to me, is a handful of people coordinating loopholes to exploit a system. And the only way to fight back, is to coordinate loopholes to exploit the system in return.

I’ve been around long enough to see how the politics work, what it looks like when it doesn’t work. And what it looks like when you have an extremely aggressive company willing to turbo shell the whole server.

You can take that “Get gud and exploit back” attitude down the road somewhere. We don’t want it here.

13 Likes

Yeah because getting a war ready set is super expensive. You’ll have to get all those crazy 1k a piece resil+perk pieces from the TP and grind out those extremely expensive named drops that you get almost every other run out of dungeons.
If you actually believe that gold=territories and it’s just a vicious cycle of monopoly or whatever it would quialify as you should wake up and stop being a drama queen.
Instead of spreading this narrative of being gatekept because you have to talk to ppl instead of pressing a button to que put your time towards getting better and you’ll play in wars in no time.

Unfortunately this git gud and exploit back has been, and continues to be, the attitude from the top players since the start.

I literally don’t know any top players who don’t do this. None of the players who I struggle to kill and have more skills than me play with fair competition in mind. Even most of the b-team players in these top companies have awful attitudes. I know some that begrudgingly use exploits to stay competitive, but these are the quiet minority.

And it’s not like these people who are reluctant to exploit can start their own company and abstain from it all, because they would just be spawn killed at the war camp after 5 mins.

At the end of the day the whole war system needs an overhaul, Devs need to listen to feedback and make the game better and territory ownership and wars are a big issue to sort out.

11 Likes