World of Warcraft players grumble over Blizzard leader’s participation in boosting culture

    
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These references, however, remain.

If you thought the ousting of J. Allen Brack from the top of Blizzard and his replacement by a pair of Activision execs was going to save the company, you’re in for a rude awakening this week, as Mike Ybarra, who was previously hailed for actually being a World of Warcraft player, has been widely criticized for his activities in the game – specifically, boosting. Here’s the tweet Reddit is stewing over; Ybarra is essentially advertising a “sales run” for his WoW guild – the guilds are selling spots and loot in their raids to other players, who are trading either in-game or out-of-game currency for the ride.

The boosting phenomenon is not at all new in MMOs, though the term itself comes from other genres, and in MMOs, its acceptability has depended heavily on the game itself, on the content being traded, and on the type of currency in question. Back on Old Massively, our former EverQuest II columnist Karen Bryan wrote a lengthy column about players auctioning raid loot and selling loot rights in that game all the way back in 2011 – and it wasn’t new then either, as one of her examples was from 2001 in Classic EverQuest. But it was certainly just as contentious.

And so when one of the co-leaders of Blizzard openly discussed streaming and profiting from boosts, some members of the community erupted on social media, arguing that the leader of the company shouldn’t be involved in something that crushes chat channels, skirts RMT in some cases, and invalidates many of the supposed motivations and rationales for exclusive gear and challenging content. It’s certainly a sign that Blizzard has no plans to do anything about what is perceived by some as a major problem for the sportsmanship of the MMO.

“I don’t care if your guild sells @Warcraft boosts, but it’s a really bad look for the co-director of @Blizzard_Ent to publicly advertise and sell them,” one gamer wrote. “You aren’t just a player anymore. You hold the keys to the franchise so act like you deserve them.”

Source: Reddit, Dexerto, Twitter. Cheers, Joey!
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Ellerian_

Was the tweet about the content of his stream a bad idea? Probably. But the real problem here is the high gold cost of competitive PvE in WoW, due to a number of factors – the way loot works and the high cost of BoEs being among them. Pretty sure the high end guilds would prefer not to have to do it. Someone commented how much gold the WF guild used in the last raid tier and it’s actually insane. How else do they make that kind of gold other than selling boosts?
Boosting for gold is really a problem in PvP though – that is where it actually has a significant gameplay effect on the rest of the playerbase.
Advertising boosts via LFG tool is being addressed somewhat in the next patch I believe, so should be less annoying for most of us for a while, until the boosters find a way round it ;)

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Dobablo

This feels like a massive nothing-burger. Some people saw a tweet and decided to get upset by it.

Trading instance runs for real-world currency is a ban-able offense.
Buying a raid slot for in-game currency has been on Blizzards officially ok list for quite and while and it is an acknowledged part of the world-first race.
I don’t think Ybarra should be plugging his guild’s streaming activities, but he didn’t do anything wrong either.

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Bereman99

I think where it hits a grey area for WoW is that, unlike in older days of the game or in the case of other games, Blizzard has a real monetary incentive to support boosting, as it’s often the process of buying tokens for real money and selling those that brings in the gold to make those purchases.

And so when you have one of the co-leaders engaging in an activity that is also frequently tied up in a process that makes the very company he is a co-leader for?

That’s not as cut and dry as “boosts/clears for real money bad, for in-game gold it’s fine.”

Ozzie
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Ozzie

“Massive” might be a bit of hyperbole. Boosting is a huge cornerstone of WoW. The last time I played, it’s literally 50% or MORE of all general/trade chat. And 70%+ of all LFG entries are to sell boosting services, for PvE and PvP. You’re constantly bombarded with boosting spam in WoW whether you like it or not.

All of this is because of the indirect real money involved in all these services. To discover a Blizz lead is not only tacitly allowing it, but also facilitating and endorsing it, you can kinda see that boosting is actually an intentional cornerstone by now. That makes sense, I mean with Blizz facilitating the money->gold-> boosting pipeline, they have an incentive to keep it going. They give space and tools for boosters to sell their services. Seems now it’s officially all by design, even if it emerged without Blizz direction. The tweet gives a clearer picture of their overall design intent, and much easier to see they’ll keep it going for a long while.

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Dobablo

Like you said, boosting is endemic.

It is a requirement for top-level raiders to fund their progress race by selling boosts. His tweet only tells us that he plays the same game as everyone else, not his opinion on it.

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Neurotic

Can I just say that clicking through to Karen’s Tattered Notebook really brought the memories flooding back! Of that time, of EQ2, of Massively-that-was… wow! 😄 Do you ever hear from Karen these days? What’s she doing now?

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Munchmeat2

Echo spent 35k Euros on their last world first race. They bougth 430 million gold with tokens.

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Vincent Clark

Wait, what??

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Munchmeat2

Yep, 35k Euros. Insane right? This was never a thing years ago in WoW.

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Vincent Clark

It’s beyond insane. Completely mental!

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Ellerian_

That isn’t quite what he said, he said 35k worth of gold. Doesn’t say they bought it, or if they did that they bought it from Blizz. The sales runs are to fund this ridiculous cost of high end PvE.

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Dug From The Earth

Little Bobby at the amusement park, “This ride sucks, the people running the ride have no idea what they are doing. It breaks down so much and no one knows how to fix it. They dont care if I get hurt riding it. Im not having fun, and it only keeps getting worse!!”

Bobby’s mom, “Ok Bobby, get off the ride so we can go”

Little Bobby, “No, Im not getting off the ride! Make it go again! AGAIN!!!”

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jealouspirate

In principle I don’t have a problem with boosts. I even bought one once during WoD, to get the AoTC Moose mount (with gold I farmed while playing). I don’t think it’s fundamentally any different from buying items from the auction house. Isn’t an economy where people trade goods and services part of MMOs? Friends also “carry” their friends through things all the time and nobody really cares about that, even though it’s fundamentally the same thing.

However, I do think the situation in WoW has gotten out of hand for a variety of reasons. There seems to be a drastic increase in boosting/carry runs, which has had a number of unintended negative side effects. Unfortunately, I don’t see this issue going away, because the WoW Token is both a great enabler of boosts and a huge revenue generator. No studio is going to rush to fix a problem that makes them a lot of money, as we’ve seen from many other studios.

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Bereman99

Agreed – the act of farming your own gold/in-game currency and using that to pay others for a service is really no different than buying stuff off a market board – currency is obtained through gameplay, then used to obtain something of value from another player or group of players.

But it’s the WoW token and it’s connection to real world monetary value that is the complicating factor here, and you’re definitely right that the sale of boosts has increased in WoW since they were introduced.

And then you add in this kind of situation, where the co-leader of the very company that stands to gain financially from the frequent use of WoW token purchases for the purpose of affording boosts is also engaging in said practice.

That feels like a pretty significant grey area, and honestly isn’t a great look for the game.

MilitiaMasterV
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MilitiaMasterV

I’m going to be ‘that guy’ for a bit here :

Remember when we used to have to actually put in effort on games? Not buy our way past everything or ‘look it up’ and/or cheese our way through?

/endbeingthatguy

But seriously, there’s multiple reasons Blizzard earned a boycott from me years ago.

The fact that people think this is ‘casual’ and ‘OK’ to do nowadays simply makes me -blank stare- at you folks who think it’s OK. I remember when ‘cheating’ was frowned on…now it’s A-OK and supported by ‘people at the top’…

…incoming rationalizing arguments saying it’s not cheating in 3…2….1….

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Munchmeat2

People that boost are missing out on the one of the main reasons to play an online game, which for me is to interact with other human beings. I guess boosting encompasses people interacting, but it is rather a soulless experience in my opinion and players miss out on having social interactions both good and bad. Paid carry runs are rather robotic, it’s almost feels like you would be running the content with a bunch of NPCs for me at least.

I don’t speak for everyone on this one, some people just want the titles, mounts and cool purples without the hassle of joining a guild or a static raid group.

Loot never really mattered to me in MMOs, I was always in it for the social interactions and that is how I approach them still.

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Dobablo

Most boosters do it entirely because they are social players. They run normal content with their friends, but their peer group is unable to do high end raiding, either through time, commitment or ability restraints. Boosting gives an opportunity for players to experience the most challenging content without having to abandon their current social groups.

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Vincent Clark

Can we also put aside the “well it’s been done for years so…” as an argument for why we should keep doing bad things? Please?

John Artemus
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John Artemus

I haven’t played WoW in years, but that literally sounds like pay to win.

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Dobablo

Person A mentions that his guild sells the products of their raiding activities for in-game currency to finance further in-game raiding activities. Farm an activity to make gold to pay for progressing your activities. By my book that is the definition of play-to-win.

The only thing that might possibly make this pay-to-win is that other people have previously broken the T&Cs to sell similar raiding rewards for real-world currency, but in that case, every game is P2W.

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Dobablo

Although, having read the rest of the thread, it appears as though people are looking at this from a different perspective.
I have been looking at if from the perspective of someone that is happy to continue doing their current content but wants an occasional tour that allows them to experience the high end of the raiding scene.
I had not considered the competition between players that are trying to get into the elite raiding game and are having to compete against a few players that have padded their resume with a boost run.

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Munchmeat2

I had not considered the competition between players that are trying to get into the elite raiding game and are having to compete against a few players that have padded their resume with a boost run.

I personally think WoW needs to ditch Mythic raiding and M+ and just make the end game more accessible like it was in Wrath. Who care if a 500 players that enjoy this style of content leave, the game would be better for it. This hardcore content creates so much FOMO for casual players and the content itself is very stressful to engage with, which has created a ton of toxicity in the game.

John Artemus
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John Artemus

From what I’ve read that isn’t what’s happening at all. You buy a token with real-world currency which you then sell for in-game gold. That gold can then be used to buy a clear or whatever. So that means a scrub like me who has no raiding experience but wants all the shiny loot from a high-end raid can literally buy my way into it. As long as I have disposable income, I can buy a clear advantage over other players who do not. The best gear seems to be a token purchase away.

John Artemus
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John Artemus

And just to clarify my point further, I’m aware that selling raid clears have been in WoW since the beginning. I saw them all the time when I used to play. And I see them now in my current game, FFXIV. All MMOs do this in some way. But it used to be, you had to farm the gold yourself, like you pointed out. You still had to put in work to get the required gold, then buy the clear from whichever guild was selling it. I’m actually fine with that. It’s a community thing, not really a game design thing.

But Blizzard as it exists today has turned it into a game design thing because they can directly profit from it. FFXIV, for example, doesn’t have a token or item you can purchase in the cash shop and then sell for thousands of gil (yet), which you can then use to buy savage and ultimate clears.

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Boe_Jlobers

Thanks Gamers™

All the crying about how much they pay Big Bobby, well hope you’re happy now. Now the literal co-head of Blizzard is so poor he has to sell runs :( Why can’t we just pay him enough to buy the WoW Tokens he needs.

Eliot Lefebvre
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Eliot Lefebvre

Not sure if facetious or genuinely missing the point

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Utakata

Since this poster is a parody on a Stan who frequents the Star Citizen commentary I believe, I’ll take facetious for $500, Alex.

Eliot Lefebvre
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Eliot Lefebvre

That’s my first bet, but sometimes you just don’t know.

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Utakata

/Poe’s Law. /sigh

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Boe_Jlobers

Ha yeah sorry, tried to be pretty obvious about it. I’m catching some of the .. uhhhh…. ‘colorful’ comments getting removed and I see why you have to ask if this was real.

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Ken from Chicago

This is the internet. You think you are posting something so obviously over-the-top that everyone can clearly see you’re joking but there’s always a percentage that takes you totally seriously.

On the flip side, there are times someone says something so outrageous that no way can they mean it and they are deadly serious. 🤔

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Bryan Correll

I’ve been taken seriously several times on what I thought were over the top ridiculous statements.