Ranking on video games matters for most of the players. But when a player is not skilled enough to climb the ladder, he can seek some help. However, another player will not help him for free: if he will spend part of his time playing for another person, he wants to be paid. This is how « elo boost » was born.
Ranking systems in video games tally the player’s current progress and relative skill. If on old arcade games, the rankings were restricted to ten or twenty players, nowadays on most online video games, every player is ranked.
The rankings are often based on the “elo rating system”, a method created by Arpad Elo, an Hungarian-born American physics professor. It was first used to calculate the relative skill levels of players in chess. The player’s rating is represented by a number which increases or decreases depending on the outcome of the game and on the ratings of every player. More points are won if the opponent has a higher rating and vice-versa.
Most of the time, having a high ranked account on games such as League of Legends or Overwatch allows the player to obtain rewards. Sometimes, a player wants these rewards but is not skilled enough to achieve the necessary ranking. Hence, he will ask someone to play on his behalf.
The « elo boost » business
Although this kind of practice is prohibited by most of “Terms and Services” of video games, many websites have created an elo boost platform. They act as an intermediary between the player who wants to be “boosted” and the player who will play on his account, the “booster”. The “boosted” player will pay the platform, from which the “booster” will only earn a percentage.
How much can a player pay? Way too much for such an intangible representation of wealth. Some platforms offer pay-per-win deal. Others offer a “Achieved rank” deal. Hence, on one hand, the “booster” can earn up to 200$ a day and make a living, by just playing the game on another player’s account.
On the other hand, the platform’s earnings are way higher. Because they act like a middleman like Airbnb or Uber, they don’t have to spend anything.
Each time a new online game with a ranking system becomes popular, websites will most likely create a “boosting platform”.
Consequences on games
In team games, when a player is “boosted” to a rank which he cannot achieve by himself, he will play with players of the said rank. However, because he will not have the skill tied to the rank, he can be a deadweight for other legit players. “Elo boost” can result in a bad atmosphere and experience for them. As the game is less enjoyable, players might quit, which is the result developers try to avoid. That is why most of them prohibit “account sharing” and “elo boosting”.