WoW's business value
WoW has become a very good way to make money for dedicated players. This results in more and more players treating WoW as a job, as basis for earning their living. Although WoW is not considered an E-Sport it has probably more players earning money from than any other computer game with the possible exception of SC:BW in Korea. Xandyn made an interesting comparison of boosting and drug trade. Boosting effects the player basis, as it removes the value of titles, access to ArenaJunkies and finding team members willing to improve.
As with drug trade, it is close to impossible to fight such a market on the seller side. Blizzard may ban accounts but twenty minutes and an IP reset later the next account maybe played. Some spoiled kid may loose his account, but it will not affect sellers in any real way. While Blizzard banned some big names like Vileroze, the effect is zero. Also most Blizzard employees are not allowed to talk about this problem and if so only state, that Blizzard tries this and that against the boosting business. On interviews Blizzard has very strict policies about questions and anything putting light on the shadier sides of WoW will not go public. In other words, no help is coming from this side, but this is not really the fault of Blizzard. Many governements tried to fight a war on drugs with massive ressources, billion dollar budgets and secret agencies with little to no effect. As the boosting business does not even force legal consequences the chances of anything changing on the seller side is zero.
The buyer side
While it astonishes many, that players pay for others playing their toons - WoW has always been a place where, among others, social outsiders and low self esteem hide behind the anonymity of the web. On many servers, especially the ones that are no pvp hubs, titles and ratings still give social recognition and humanity was always willing to do anything for recognition. Selling social recognition for some hundred dollars or euros is for many a very attractive product. Much like drugs do not solve problems, ratings don't give acceptance for long, especially if someone clicks and backpaddles. Means it is usually quite easy to see, who got boosted. Which means, that buying boosts means only more hiding and not acceptance.
WoW boosting is a multi million dollar market and so the players will try to get money out of it. Most of every player at tournaments or multiple gladiator titles is involved, many more by maintaining websites, managing adds or handle costumer contact. Let us not be hypocrits, most of those reading this post would do boosts, if they were good enough themselves. But as boosting kills the pvp scene the question is, if there are alternatives, that bring in money all the same. +
Alternative 1: streaming
Real money only comes for very high caliber players and also it can easily be combined with boosting for additional money. While it is a good and legit way without untieing it from boosting it remains ineffective. Here is a good chance to intervene from Blizzard, however. Players are identified by their channels and playing someones elses account is trivial to track. Viewers can also help by writing ingame tickets with links to the stream and the characters played.
Alternative 2: Coaching
Probably one of the best alternatives to boosting is coaching. Players actually get better, the pvp scene gets broader and competition increases. At the moment it is more expensive than boosting, as it takes time to improve. Many players offer this service, when being asked. Well made testimonials could increase the business volume here by a lot. Depending on the quality and reputation of the players offering this service prices range from 30€-60€ per hour.
Alternative 3: Playing with top players
While this often involves account sharing it is a way to improve players and help them get better. With alts of top players or even better on the tournament realm this is a very effective way to coach and to make players improve their play. The main problem is that it involves two players getting paid and is pretty expensive therefore. Depending on the quality and reputation of the players offering this service prices range from 30€-60€ per hour and player.
Alternative 4: Skill Capped
The idea is simple and good. Pay a low amount of money per month to access exclusive content, guides and get questions answered, videos reviewed and often even co-players in the official guilds. The main problem seems that the content providers are paid much less than for doing boosts. This could be extended to selling certain services, as reviewing binds and, improving the interface or something similar. Most players see these kind of things a something, that should be free of charge. But a lot of work goes into these things and many of them are worth it.
Alternative 5: Videos, blogs and adds
If not most video adds would be for boosts this could be another good idea. For sponsors to take this more seriously the scene needs to improve however. Chances of that happening are low, so this most likely not an option outside of "branding" for players.
Alternative 6: Online tournaments
Only NAO managed to pull a good tournament off by now. The prices are too low, although increasing, and the tournaments held to seldom in order to make a steady income. Also a lot of viewers turn away from the tournaments as the involvement of the organizers in boosting turns them away. A good way to promote pvp, but the organizers need to increase their hypocrisy-skills and perform better at showing a clean record.
Boosting will play a part in WoW as long as the game exists. There are good alternatives and if more players realize that increased skill raises their social acceptance a lot more and lot longer than increased rating the boosting business may draw less buyers in. As there is money in the market, it should be possible to find other means to earn it.
emphMember Since 12 Jul 2011
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