Today Blizzard announced that Cross realm boosting communities now break the Terms of Service. Let’s discuss the implications!
What’s actually banned
Boosting for gold is not banned. What exactly is banned, is not quite clear. Blizzard has left a good bit of ambiguity, likely so they can use their judgment as needed. Cross realm boosting communities are banned, and it is clear that you can only boost if you wholly rely on in-game measures to do so. E.g. advertising you and your guilds boost in trade chat.
What will the effect be?
Obviously the boosting communities provided a very useful service. Matching buyers and sellers is hard, and by making it easy it made it much easier to both buy and sell boosts. With this change, it will be harder to sell and buy boosts. Fewer people will boost, but the top guilds might be able to charge more and don’t need a middle man.
Boost prices could go either way, it will likely depend heavily on realm as cross realm boosting is now MUCH harder logistically to pull off, assuming that you need to accept the gold on the realm with the character you are boosting on. That being said it does remain to be seen exactly how Blizzard will use the rules, and who the main targets actually are.
Is this good?
Personally I think it’s good. Boosting had gotten to a very extreme point. The better boosting communities get, the less incentive anyone has to engage in organic groups for that type of content. Now more players may have to pug heroic, or mid level m+ keys if they want to gear their alts. It’s of course possible some players quit, but long term this should help focus on core progression for more players. It’s no healthy for a game with group based content if a majority of groups are carry groups, it screams terrible game design.
Design paradigms and boost demand
As long as the game is the same, the rationale for buying a boost will be the same though. As such demand could shift into illegal services, but that is riskier, so generally a higher threshold for people to do it. I was even considering buying a boost today just before the news went out on my alt, but now I will probably look for some other way to gear it, including running my own +2 key.
The RMT ghost
Obviously there is RMT boosting, and we can assume that management in some of the boosting communities will be engaging in RMT. This already happened with the most reputable community back in the day, so the precedent is set. Bellular’s investigation also fairly clearly showed that this is a large potential problem.
Will it impact the economy?
Overall I dont think it will impact the economy massively short term. Obviously token prices will change, depending on how many players were buying tokens with money to buy boosts, versus how many players are using the gold from boosts to buy tokens, the price can go either way.
Personally I feel on balance this is more likely to raise token prices as gold is a little less valuable now, assuming there are fewer boosts or fewer players can buy boosts. We will certainly be entering unchartered territory though!