PSA: How Boosting Works; Ways to Reduce It
I paid for boosting on a throwaway account from 3.4k to 3.6k, 3.6k to 3.8k and 3.8k to 3.9k with three different boosters. I will outline how boosters get passed Steam Security and detail my personal views on how to reduce the practice.
The Dota Black Market
Someone looking for boosting would first find a boosting/account selling forum. This is as simple as a quick google. These sites usually have hundreds of boosting services on them all working for below minimum wage. Usually one person runs the service and has multiple boosters working for him/her, boosting in the range of 0k-5k with some going up to 6k. Boosters tend to play 8+ games a day.
If you decide boosting is for you while browsing these websites, it’s at this point you give into the Dunning-Kruger effect, accept your below averagely sized genitalia and pay up for the boosting, over their site or via paypal.
The Nitty Gritty
They’d then ask for your login details, to disable steam guard and enable family sharing mode. I’m sure most people have a vague idea of what steam guard is, so put briefly family sharing mode allows you to share an account with others without giving them access to the steam market, steam community or any games other than the ones you grant direct access to i.e. a safe boosting paradise (put on your conspiracy tinfoil). Honestly boosting shouldn’t be this safe.
They’d then play the games and that’s that. You’d probably then reenable steam guard, change your pw back etc and play with your brand spanking new “I don’t deserve this MMR” MMR.
Is boosting a problem?
A game with a booster in it is ruined for 9 other people. (225 displaced MMR).
A game played by someone who’s been boosted is ruined for 9 other people. (225 displaced MMR).
So every game a booster plays ruins a game for 18 other people.
A booster plays 8+ games a day.
There are hundreds of boosting services, each with a team of boosters.
Yes I think it’s a problem.
I’d say a conservative estimate at the amount of mmr displaced by boosters every day puts it at around 720000. (80 miracles worth)
Can Anything be Done?
Yes. Don’t allow people to queue ranked after disabling Steam Guard in the same way the Community Market is unavailable after disabling Steam Guard. Or introduce a Prime Queue like CSGO which requires a mobile authenticator.
Similarly, don’t allow people to enable Family Sharing mode after disabling Steam Guard. Family Sharing Mode gives people peace of mind that boosters won’t sell their items, play other games etc. Personally I think Valve should endeavour to not give these people peace of mind. Of course this mode is useful for families, but perhaps don’t allow people to queue ranked with both Steam Guard disabled, and Family Sharing Mode enabled. A region lock could also help counter boosting, but I think this is undesirable by almost everyone, open regions is one of the things that sets Dota apart from snort snort lesser games.
With well over 2 million games of Dota being played every day, the chances of having a booster or boosted account in your game is still relatively small. However these boosters do have ripples.
Perhaps you’re not playing directly with a booster/boostee, but a couple members of your team just had a booster on their team last game and through no fault of their own got an undeserved +25, causing you to narrowly lose this game because they were veeery slightly out of their depth (An undeserved -25 for you).
It’s hard to quantify some of the effects boosters may have on the overall quality of matchmaking, but effects they most certainly do have.
Bought accounts almost certainly have a bigger impact in most people’s ranked matchmaking experience, especially in the 3.5k – 5k range. But personally I think a prime queue would help with that too, especially if it included a higher level cap. And if Valve found a solution to grinding exp in bot games, that would be great.
I was honestly a bit disappointed by how little I found out about how boosting works by doing it. I’d low key hoped boosters would have all these exposable neat little criminal mastermind tricks to get around top notch Valve security systems etc, but in reality there’s not much trying to stop them. Oh well.
Covering My Own Ass
My main account is a higher MMR than the throwaway I boosted, no more games were ruined having boosters play on it than if I was to play it myself.
Yes I put money into the boosting industry to find out how it works, but putting $8 dollars into the pocket of a Russian teenager that plays Dota all day probably won’t cause WW3.
“You’re advertising boosting”. Everyone knows what boosting is already, and it’s never been hard to get it if you wanted it.
TLDR Valve could be doing more to prevent boosting and account buying than they are. 6.89 will fix it.(?)