What're ya selling?
Evil corporations are everywhere in games. Behind most virtual villains, there's a sprawling business carrying out their dastardly schemes. These companies are pros at screwing up life for anyone who opposes them, or stands in the way of their own unique brand of "progress." Progress that usually means planetary destruction, mass slavery, or turning the local populace into branded meat products.
Hmm come to think of it, they sound a bit like real corporations. Well, maybe a little worse. Even so, be glad you don't have to ever worry about a company needing to use you and your friends as a source of meat for its product, or beating you to a pulp... not yet anyway. We can't say the same for these giant conglomerates.
Shinra Electric Power Company (Final Fantasy VII)
Shinra is an evil company with a stylish side. Its own group of enforcers, the Turks, ooze cool thanks to the matching black suits and shades. They seem like a good group to send a resume to, until you realize they're not your average security guards. They're more into busting kneecaps and assassinations than, say, company picnics and eating donuts. Those dastardly deeds are all in the name of preventing any goody-two-shoes from ending Shinra's lucrative business of sapping the world of its lifeblood--Mako.
As you might expect, there are plenty who didn't enjoy Shinra's brand of corporate synergy, but Shinra laughed in the faces of frowners... and then sends the Turks in to bust said frowns into something it found more suitable. Hint: mush. Oh, and as a side project, Shinra kind of maybe liked experimenting on soldiers in the hopes of fine-tuning their speed, agility, and strength. If an "experiment" should get away from them, proper protocol was to fill it with bullets, preferably before office happy hour.
World of Goo Corporation (World of Goo)
Considering World of Goo is a game about connecting tiny, harmless balls of goo with their fellow brethren, you'd be forgiven for thinking nothing evil was at hand. Unfortunately, the sorry plight of the little balls is immense. Players unwittingly send the gooey dudes to be processed into energy drinks and other products at the World of Goo Corporation, a company unafraid of turning a profit at the expense of cute, squishy globs. Its a good thing the company has a wonderful PR department to deflect the publics concern about its ingredients.
Oh, and it gets much worse. The corporation creates a new dimension, which causes all sorts of problems for the people living on the planet--like the fact that they can't actually exist on the new plane. In the end, the goo balls destroy the evil corporation, but leave the world in a dirty, smog-covered state. That's sort of a happy ending, right?
RuptureFarms (Abe's Oddysee)
Some work environments are downright poor. Long hours, low pay, and no room for growth. RuptureFarms doesn't really have "Human Resources" of any kind. Instead, Abe and his fellow Mudokons are slaves. Its factory workers are indeed a part of the product, and not in some weird, spiritual way. Buying meat from them actually means you're probably eating Joe Mudokon, the same Mudokon who worked a couple cubicles away from you just last week.
That's what poor Abe has to deal with at his life-threatening nine to five until he decides to escape. Instead of being able to just walk out of the front door, Abe has to deal with the trauma of his friends turning into food, and then sneak out of a maximum security facility.
Umbrella Corporation (Resident Evil)
Umbrella is utterly confused as to what it means to be a pharmaceutical company. However, instead of just creating cosmetics to make people look pretty or feel better, Umbrella is busy monkeying with biological weapons that turn people into zombies, and other frightening creatures.
It's unfortunate Umbrella just doesn't work on creating cream to clear your acne. If you're lucky enough to avoid life as a zombie, you may be mutated into something worse, usually with spikes and nasty body fluids. And, in what seems to be a trend, Umbrella has its own paramilitary group, because why not? You need someone to shoot all those zombies.
Aperture Laboratories (Portal)
It's not often a company becomes its own worst enemy, but Aperture Laboratories found a way. Run by a man with a goal to sell curtains to the military, Aperture strived to develop more interesting ideas. And by "interesting" I mean "super, super evil." It made anti-anti choking devices, tricking homeless people into being experimented on, and went around stealing wishes from dying children, all in the name of science.
Given infinite resources by the government thanks to its burgeoning portal technology, the company would end up using its newfound funding toward its unwitting dark descent into science madness. Along came GLaDOS, an artificial intelligence meant to help with administrative tasks. Upon being "born," she swiftly murdered the entire staff with neurotoxin. Then, in a turn of events that weren't even remotely surprising, she went on her merry way conducting deadly research on people Aperture had contained specifically for the gruesome purpose. Not cool, GLaDOS, and no gold star for Aperture, either.
Abstergo Industries (Assassin's Creed)
At first it seems like Abstergo isn't such a bad multinational corporation. In Abstergo's case, its tech has even helped propel humanity forward. Unfortunately, the company--a front for the antagonistic Templar Order--is actually all about killing all these Assassins on earth, and establishing a new world order that the Templars would run.
That's a very bad goal. Sure, world peace sounds good on paper--great, even--but not when it's due to a single entity achieving it via total control over the populace. There may not be a 100 percent correct way to govern, but it's typically not found with oppressive tactics. However, Assassin's Creed 4 proves Abstergo makes pretty good video games, so it isn't a total loss.
Vault-Tec Corporation (Fallout)
Government-funded companies haven't fared well on this list, and the popular company from the Fallout series isn't exactly a saintly one to work for. Tasked with building vaults for people to live in before nuclear war ravaged the planet, Vault-Tec wasn't really interested in preventing people from turning into radioactive monstrosities. They... kind of promoted it.
What the company actually does is intentionally build vaults that act as science experiments. These are nothing like the harmless baking soda and vinegar volcano you built in middle school; they're meant for more horrible endeavors, like finding out what the Forced Evolutionary Virus might do to humans. It doesn't stop there, and the company's legacy reads like a list of everything you're taught not to do on Earth Day.
Fontaine Futuristics (BioShock)
The fact that BioShock baddie Fontaine deals genetic enhancements in the form of plasmids is already a bit dicey. Futuristics threw funds at the project that led to the ability to shoot lightning from one's fingertips, and owner Fontaine was not in the least bit worried that genetically manipulated young girls were an integral part of the process. Can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs, after all.
Not content with trying to monopolize the ol' plasmid business. Like a bootlegger bringing in alcohol during prohibition, the industry mogul was superb at sneaking weapons and men around in order to complete his goal. Too bad his obsession led to the downfall of the city he hoped to control. That cant bode well for quarterly financial reports.
Ultor Corporation (Red Faction)
Mars is a hostile planet. It's hostile because nothing is supposed to reside on its dusty red surface, but Ultor Corporation thought it would be a great idea to set up shop on the rock. Its operation seemed harmless at first: mine the planet's minerals. Rather than stick to the plot, Ultor decided to dabble in weapons and technology.
The corporation became the king of industry on the red planet, and also took control of its citizens. There is no such thing as a signing bonus when working for Ultor. Conflict between Ultor and Mars people eventually reached a boiling point. The revolution was well justified; Ultor treated its work force like slaves and test subjects. One of its scientists routinely doled out death via nano-technology, unmoved by the human suffering caused by his scientific progress.
Armacham Technology Corporation (F.E.A.R.)
Armacham has a problem--Alma Wade is trying to destroy them. Why? Well, it might have something to do with the fact that it experimented on her after finding out she had psionic powers; powers that include things like telepathy and pyrokinesis. Armacham, as is obvious with its poor choice of name, is full of all sorts of bad ideas. One of them is trying to find a way to make money off poor Wade's otherworldly powers.
In a bid to solidify its power, the company also dabbled in a little bit of super soldier creation. This resulted in Armacham owning its very own group of super not nice soldiers, should the need arise to oust any unruly board members. Sometimes, just because it seemed to work better, another individual with psionic powers controlled these soldiers. If you're going to have someone with telepathic powers on your payroll, you might as well turn your sinful soldiers into puppets.
Aesir Corporation (May Payne)
Fronting as a pharmaceutical corporation seems to be a popular theme here. When Max Paynes wife found out Aesir was secretly selling the illegal Valkyr drug, she and her daughter were murdered. Max didn't like the form of punishment, and rightly so.
Unfortunately for him, he couldn't just phone the police. How many times have you seen a big corporation taken down by the government or law? Yeah, not many. To make matters worse, Aesir was protected by its very own private army. Most companies keep secrets guarded with non-disclosure agreements, keycard access to the building, and a small security team. Aesir employed mercenaries who were not afraid to hurt Max.
Mishima Zaibatsu (Tekken)
A company that sponsors a fighting tournament? Hey, that's sort of cool. You'd think that would actually be kind of a cool place to work at. It isn't though. Oh, no. Maybe they should stop the whole "fighting" thing and start, I don't know, giving out quarterly bonuses?
Zaibatsu, one part company and one part evil syndicate, isn't without problems. Though not because sales are down. Want to be in charge? Win the tournament and the job is yours. It's probably not sound business to hand over a company each time someone defeats its owner in fisticuffs, but the world of Tekken also has boxing kangaroos, so who am I to judge? As for what the company actually does, well that's another issue. That would be kidnappings, killings, and generally evil deeds.
Which company do you think is the worst? Are there any you've encountered during a gaming session that made you think, "Glad that company's not real?" Let us know in the comments!
And if you're looking for more, check out The five stages of griefing and The most hateful things said by game devs and industry personalities.