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Corporate Warfare
"There were several ways to win a corporate war. One of them was to bring out the bazookas."
— Flavour text of the Corporate War card, Android:Netrunner

One common feature of Mega Corps, both real and fictional, is the possession of private armies and the ability to wage war.

Staple of Cyberpunk media. Megacorporations typically are depicted as having "Company Security Forces" which are often as powerful as the military of a small nation. Besides the option for open warfare, they also heavily indulge in covert operations against their business rivals, ranging from espionage to sabotage and "wetwork", meaning assassinations of key personnel.

In Real Life, the East India Trading Companies officially conquered and outright governed large areas of India in the name of their home nations.

Compare Mob War. Contrast to One Nation Under Copyright, where the corporations literally are nations. May involve an Army of Lawyers or Corporate Samurai. Private Military Contractors are a common choice for such security forces. May overlap with N.G.O. Superpower.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Spice and Wolf: During certain arcs (namely the devalued silver coins one), there is a trade company that has enough men to do the thug and garrote routine without problem by sheer force of numbers. The other Traders had a nice Intel network of the city maps and then Lawrence has Holo. Considering the setting, the idea of using men for pressuring and muting the lone merchant they scammed is logical from their point of view. Karma on the other hand...

    Comic Books 
  • Parodied in the Cursed Earth storyline in Judge Dredd. Gengineered mascot creatures battle each other for supremacy long after the corporations they represent have vanished. (Apparently these chapters could not be reprinted due to trademark infringement.)
  • A big part of Marvel 2099. When they say "hostile takeover", they mean "hostile takeover".

    Film 
  • In Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, the antagonist faction was the corporate army of the Trade Federation, secretly controlled by Darth Sidious. In Episodes II, III and Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the Separatist army was also created as an amalgamation of several corporate armies.
  • The East India Trading Company is featured in the second and third Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Not only do they have a private fleet and army with a worldwide reach, they also control the Flying Dutchman. The Company wages war on all pirates, intent to wipe them out. Not Truth in Television: the East India Company did arm their ships defensively, but actually fighting wars was the province of the Royal Navy (though they did admittedly have a lot of pull with the government to get the Royal Navy to go where they wanted.)
  • The premise of the original Rollerball was that corporations had taken over for governments and waged wars on each other, until they decided wars were too expensive to their bottom line and instead invented the game of Rollerball where the companies could battle it out in the arena.
  • RoboCop 3 has Omni Consumer Products (and its new shareholders the Kanemitsu Corporation) hire a band of mercenaries to force out the inhabitants of Old Detroit. To combat this, the regular folks form a underground resistance. Oh, just to make sure their investment pays off, Kanemitsu sends robot ninjas to aid their hired guns.
  • The film Matewan involved conflict between a coal company which controlled most of a West Virginia town's economy, and local miners endeavoring to form a union in the 1920s. The company had contracted with a Pinkerton-style mercenary force called the Baldwin-Felts Detective Agency, which sent a platoon of gunmen into the town to suppress the miners' strike. Truth in Television: this film was loosely based on true events that occurred in Matewan, West Virginia at that time. And suppression of unions through such means was common elsewhere in the U.S. in that era, often involving the actual Pinkertons.
  • Silent Movie. Engulf & Devour intends to purchase Big Picture Studios, which is on the verge of bankruptcy. Upon learning that director Mel Funn's upcoming film may save the studio, Engulf & Devour attempts to sabotage the filming. At the end, they send agents to steal the completed film reel, and this escalates into a chase scene and a fight using a Coke machine as a grenade launcher.
  • Literal corporate warfare is seen in a section of Monty Python's The Meaning of Life when the disgruntled employees of Permanent Assurance Company turn their building into a pirate ship and launch a raid on The Very Big Corporation of America.

    Literature 
  • In Jennifer Government, the corporate alliances come to the brink of all-out warfare, and step slightly over the line a few times before coming to their senses due to John Nike's influence.
  • In John Van Stry's Children of Steel series, wars between corporations over mines in distant systems aren't rare. Freighter crews (comprised mainly of indentured animorphs) are trained in combat and ships are easily converted into troop transports. A couple books are partially about a war between an alliance of corporations and a multi-system extremist group that hates animorphs.
  • In Eoin Colfer's The Supernaturalist, the term "paralegal" has come to mean commandos with law degrees. (Presumably it's a pun on "paratrooper.")
  • In Frank Herbert's Whipping Star, Mliss Abnethe has such economic power (controlling a corporation that owns several worlds) that it's no surprise she has her own household troops.
  • Uller Uprising by H. Beam Piper has the Chartered Uller Company operate their own military forces on the titular planet. Many of its military personnel are former Federation regulars, and are well trained and equipped.
  • Congo by Michael Crichton. Although they don't engage in open warfare, the corporations racing to discover the lost city of Zinj engage in constant espionage and sabotage to hinder each other's efforts.
  • In the Alliance/Union series the Earth Company built a fleet of warships to bring the rebelling stations back under their fold. But the Union was better prepared and Earth eventually decided to cut their fleet off from supply, too costly.

    Tabletop Games 
  • One of the measures the Megacorp can use against the Runner in the card game NetRunner. Aside from using malevolent software to fry the Runner's brain, if the Megacorp manages to trace the location of the Runner, he can use anyting from saboteurs and paramilitary forces to bombing entire city blocks in order to flatline the Runner.
    • The page quote refers to a scoring card where the player's Megacorp goes to war against another corporation.
  • Classic Traveller supplement The Traveller Adventure. When Imperial MegaCorps decide to get rough they engage in "tradewars". They send out military forces to attack the other corporation's offices, factories, starships and other property. This can involve killing the other company's workers and management.
    • This is known in the Gurps version as well.
  • A staple (and the main source of employment of the PCs) in Shadowrun. There are also the Desert Wars where megacorps pit their troops against one another to test their weapons and for publicity. For the most part though, most corporate warfare is of the "cold war" variety, fought in lots of small skirmishes conducted by deniable proxies. Player Characters, the titular Shadowrunners, find employment as those proxies.
  • Cyberpunk 2020 is a prime example, featuring a full-scale Corporate War between two of the biggest megacorps as a world-changing event.
  • Mutant Chronicles had several Megacorps duking it out for supremacy in the solar system before and after the release of the Dark Legions.
  • In Eclipse Phase the Planetary Consortium deployed Direct Action to seize several Anarchist and Extropian habitats on the grounds that they were havens for software pirates (neither group acknowledges copyrights). However the Titanian Commonwealth decided to side with the anarchists and they formed the Autonomist Alliance.
  • The MERCS skirmish game is based entirely around this.

    Video Games 
  • A staple part of the setting in any of the Armored Core games. Even in the universe where all of the corporations joined forces in a military coup against all world governments, they're still going at each others' necks and trying to gain control over the entire globe as well as outer space.
  • Corporations are the equivalent of player guilds in EVE Online, and they're able to go to war with one another.
    • The old storyline video stated that before the discovery of the EVE wormhole the megacorporations of earth fought one another when they reached the practical limits of stargate expansion.
  • Dark Orbit's Excuse Plot is that three mining corporations don't get along and your job is to kill everyone not working for your corp.
  • The Mega Corps of Tachyon: The Fringe each maintain a private Space Navy, theoretically to protect their supply chains from piracy. They're not above using them in inter-company squabbles, however, and the central conflict of the game is between one corporation, GalSpan, and the Bora settlers.
  • The whole plot of Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere revolves around a war between two megacorporations, General Resource Ltd. and Neucom Inc.; although there are two more sides in it (peace-enforcing UPEO and the terrorist conspiracy Ouroboros), they are much smaller in scale and influence.
  • The background of Team Fortress 2 is that the playable characters are mercenaries hired by one of the two corporations that secretly run the world to fight over gravel pits, driven by Sibling Rivalry of truly epic proportions between the CEOs.
  • Syndicate has corps warring over control of the planet, mostly via small teams of highly skilled Cyborg agents.
  • Civilization series: Certain Greed events that go under "Our corporation wants X resource under rival civilization's border, go and get it for massive cash. The other variant is that "our generals want X resource in enemy land, go get it old chap".
    • Civilization: Call to Power allows the players to eventually train lawyers and corporate branches to wage economic warfare on opponents. Though it's implied they're not actually violent.
  • Sid Meierís Alpha Centauri: Morgan Industries, like all the other factions, could just build a army and conquer everyone else. Then again, Morgan could easily win through economic means as well.
    • According to the background information, Nwabudike Morgan (leader of Morgan Industries) managed to get his start by hiring mercenaries to take over some diamond mines. Morgan's Earthly businesses also included funding "mercenary forces, U.N. escorts... and creating Morgan SafeHaven Hotel Fortress chain 'for the discriminating executive'."
  • Hawken: Player Characters are pilots that fight for Prosk and Sentium, the two dominant corporations on the planet. There was originally a third, but its downfall led to the Grey Goo outbreak threatening the planet.
  • The mega corps of the X-Universe series all maintain hundreds of fighters and a couple capital ships apiece, mainly to protect their supply chains from Space Pirates, Xenon, Kha'ak, and sometimes raiding fleets of rival governments. The player can engage in this as well, and can also be hired as a contractor by the corporations and be sent on (among other things) station defense and assassination missions.
  • Cerberus Daily News told a story of this happening in the War on Garvug story arc, between Mass Effect 2 and 3. The war started when a bunch of galactic mega corps invaded the planet Garvug for supposed Prothean artifacts. The krogan and vorcha that made up most of the world's population fought back well and eventually the corporate forces pulled out...only to return in the middle of Garvug's victory celebrations, killing most of the government officials with bombs and assassinations after coming out with a well-publicized "debate" over whether to pull out from the planet or not.
  • In Nexus: The Jupiter Incident, anything beyond the Lunar orbit is under the control of the Mega Corps, after they won the war against the IASA. Each Mega Corp. has its own private fleet that is frequently deployed against rival corporations and even IASA ships that stray beyond their space. The Player Character, Marcus Cromwell, is hired by SpaceTech to captain one of their corvettes. An early mission involves saving a friend of Marcus's, who is a captain in the IASA from two OSEC ships that ambush his ship.

    Webcomics 
  • The protagonists of My Life At War were hired by Mega-Fun Foods Inc. to defend some newly acquired farmland from some nobles who think they still own it.
  • The Maytec Consortium in S.S.D.D has its own army but when the Anarchists jumped their mineral claims on Mars they manipulated the CORE into fighting the war for them.
    • Not to mention that CORE evolved from a private security company into an international coalition dedicated to fighting the Anarchists.
  • Background to one arc of Exterminatus Now is a conflict between cola companies.
  • Parodied in one arc of Newshounds where AOL attempted a military takeover of Starbucks, which failed as their troops were no match for stressed out baristas.
  • The R&D wars of Sluggy Freelance in the "4U City" Alternate Universe between a number of weapons manufacturers with strong ties to organized crime. In the prime universe Torg has been trying to take them down, but all his efforts have done is consolidate them into Hereti-Corp against everyone else.
  • In Quentyn Quinn, Space Ranger the Empire of the Seven Systems declared war on the RIAA thirty years previous, by then they owned the copyrights and patents to just about everything but what set the rather libertarian Empire off was their brain-stripping of elderly artists and scientists, which is highly illegal for a damn good reason. And apparently there were earlier skirmishes over things like laying patent claim over a species genome.

    Real Life 
  • The Dutch and British East India Companies both fielded private armies for fending off piracy and putting down native resistance to their colonial monopolies.
    • Not just pirates and natives; for much of the 18th century, whenever Britain and France went to war, the British and French East India Companies note  would dutifully declare war on one another as well. The Carnatic Wars in particular were fought largely by Company forces on both sides, with the British East India Company eventually emerging as the dominant of the two before the French company was eventually forcibly liquidated during the French Revolution.

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