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.
Likely streaming our heroic SoD sales run and high'ish end m+ tonight (20-23) starting at 5pm PT. 👍👍🎃😍
— Mike Ybarra (@Qwik) October 16, 2021
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.”