Boosting now a criminal offence in South Korea

Anyone artificially inflating a player's skill ranking in a video game could get stiff fine and two years in prison

Gamer, playing League of Legends (LOL)

South Korea has officially declared that it is a criminal offence to offer boosting services in video games. According to the new law that will go into effect in around six months from now, boosting is described as an “act that interferes with a game’s normal operations by providing the service to acquire points or achievements in a way that is not approved by the game business operator”. In layman’s terms, the practice involves playing on a low-skilled player's account to artificially boost their ranking - often for a fee.

There are numerous boosters and boosting companies operating in South Korea, centered around titles like Overwatch and League of Legends, but the introduction of low-skilled players into higher ranking matches upsets the balance of popular multiplayer games. Thus, the National Assembly of South Korea has passed an amendment to the Game Industry Promotion Act enabling boosters to face criminal charges. What's more, under the new law, boosters can end up with a fine of up to 20m won (around $18,000) and two-year suspended prison sentence. However, if you are a professional player caught cheating, it can also affect your career in the worst way possible. According to the esports global penalty index, if a pro player is caught boosting an account for profit, the minimum suspension time is around three competitive months. The maximum suspension time is twenty competitive months. In League of Legends this period equals to around two years of their career down the drain. 

“Many popular games have been suffering from professional businesses specialising in boosting without a way to resolve this issue. The newly passed amendment will help to create a healthy esports ecosystem in Korea.”, says Assemblyman Lee Dong-seop, showing exactly how serious esports is taken in the country. 

The Game Industry Promotion Act was first proposed in 2017 and protects against other issues that popular games and the companies behind them face in the region.  

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