With the recent news that Burning Crusade Classic is going to sell a one-per-account-only character level boost, the old argument of “pro vs. con boosting” has cracked open again. It’s actually kind of funny, because nobody is grousing about this on retail, but in the Classic community where the time and effort to level is much more pronounced, it’s a Big Deal. Camps on both sides are being established, blood has been drawn, and Blizzard is in crosshairs.
Of course, the studio is going to make bank with this compromise, so let’s not feel sorry for it.
Back in the day, I used to be fully, whole-heartedly against level boosting. I took a hard lined stance against it, saying that it invalidated the designed progression of the game and allowed people to, if not pay-to-win, then pay-to-progress. It felt wrong, it felt like it cheapened the time and effort that I put into working on my character if, by comparison, Joe Warrior over there shelled out $30 and got his instantly max-level character.
Now here’s the part where you expect me to say that I’ve come fully around on this topic and am completely fine with level boosting. The truth is — I’m not. I still don’t like it. I’ve used a few myself (most recently with LOTRO) and don’t really blast people for using them, but I don’t like that they exist at all. I don’t like that, from the player’s perspective, it’s a shortcut that jogs around the meat of a game’s experience and makes a false equivalence between characters that genuinely earned their status and the ones that had a bigger allowance.
I don’t like that boosts help to reinforce this notion that the endgame in MMORPGs is all that matters — and that the leveling journey is just a time gate of some sort. I don’t like that studios see an opening to make easy money by selling out in this way, nor do I like that the studios are, in a way, preying upon vulnerable players.
So I’m not going to be marching in any pro-boosting parades any time soon, no. I can acknowledge that they are useful to some people and in certain situations, that they’re usually not throwing people right to the level cap with a full set of raid gear, and that leveling is still relevant and enjoyable. I can’t see myself buying a boost for Burning Crusade Classic, but hey, if you do, I won’t give you sideeyes.