A few weeks ago, the World of Warcraft playerbase was grumbly over a tweet from the new Blizzard co-president that encouraged boosting, which is essentially a method of carrying weaker players through endgame raid content and getting them gear in exchange for piles of currency, which the boosters then convert into WoW Tokens, which other players use real-money to buy from Blizzard.
As we noted, this is a very old concept in MMOs; people were devising similar schemes all the way back in EverQuest and paying for powerleveling services in early Ultima Online, so it’s not a new phenomenon. But it’s apparently been a major issue the last few years in World of Warcraft, to the point that it’s become a divisive problem (and one that’s spilled over into Final Fantasy XIV, presumably thanks to the massive exodus from WoW earlier this year).
I don’t personally care all that much about boosting, honestly, just as I don’t really see all that much difference between Trab buying gold from players vs. from the studio. It’s all the stuff around those systems that are the problem. RMT isn’t actually the problem, or studios wouldn’t blatantly sell you currency; the problem is how black-market RMT incentivizes real-world crime in the service of generating or stealing said currency to sell. Similarly, trading expertise and loot for currency in the form of boosting isn’t the problem; the problem is the game design that enables and encourages it as the studio profits directly and studio leadership that is not only not planning to fix it but actively engaging in it. Ug.
How about you – are you bothered by boosting in MMOs?