We are passionate about our MMO hobby. We blog about it; we sign on with gaming sites and volunteer our services; we create mods and maps to help other players. We spend gaming-related hours outside of actually gaming. And we do it for free.
Different gaming companies here and there have programs that take some small advantage of this. EQ2 has a guide program; however, you aren't permitted to do it on your own server and are randomly assigned another server. I had considered applying at one time, but I want to make my own server a better place, not someone elses. SWG took on player volunteers to silence the gold spammers. But so much more could be done to put players to use that would enrich the gaming community, create a reputation that brings in more players, and retain the ones you have. You can create a good game, but you need a community to build it up.
One idea would be someone leading weekly dungeon groups with an emphasis that those who never grouped before would be welcome and given guidance. I have come across so many who avoid grouping because they are afraid of doing something wrong. While players could undertake this task and start this up without developer involvement, odds are slim they will. Give them a special title while on duty, make them feel like they are part of your company, and give an occasional pat on the back and you'd be amazed how many would step forward to fill roles. And likewise, when players see an official representative getting that group together, they feel a bit more safe joining up.
The same goes for raiding. Many would love to try it once in awhile but do not wish to join a raiding guild. Why not company-sanctioned events and "hiring" on volunteers for the job? Or what about roleplay for beginners groups, particularly on the roleplay servers which can be intimidating when new. Or how about tours through zones, pointing out little-known lore and locations. These are just a few thoughts and I'm sure there are great ones I haven't thought of yet. Just like the guide program, there would need to be some accountability to be certain volunteers remain courteous and helpful. Expand on that guide program but please don't send them to other servers. We're more likely to volunteer and work hard for you when it benefits our own server and community.
This would also be a way to get guild leaders more involved in the community. The majority of players don't read forums or pay attention to official notices. So when your fancy titled group leader wants to lead a heritage quest group next week, how does that information get out to the community? Either the guild leaders can sign up for a mailing list to be notified of events which they then message to the guild, or make it their responsibility to keep up with a section of the forums for these events.
Now here's an example of how not to handle your company-sanctioned events. Recently, EQ2 advertised having a Guild Recruitment Fair. Guild leaders were asked to sign up, which I did, and we were told it was taking place at the Claymore Monument. So what was it I signed up for? Nothing. We were basically just given a time and date and told to show up. As I said, the majority of players don't read forums and didn't even know about it, and there was nothing there to signify any event. I showed up prime time evening on a Saturday night and here was the fair:
So much can be done to take advantage of our MMO passion and benefit all of us all the way around.