South Korea’s Anti-Account Sharing Law Now in Effect

"Boosting" now punishable by fine, suspended prison sentence.

Bad news for unscrupulous folk in South Korea: As of today, getting paid to improve someone else’s rank in an online game is punishable by law. An amendment to Korea’s “Game Industry Promotion Act,” which was ratified last December and went into effect earlier this week, outlines four distinct types of “boosting” that are now punishable by a fine of up to 20 million won ($17,323.60) and a suspended prison sentence of two years.

If someone is paying you to play their account in order to artificially boost their rank/class/what have you, that’s almost definitely illegal, depending on how frequently the service was provided, the type/amount of payment, and whether the company that makes the game has a problem with it. Playing with someone, as part of a paid arrangement, to achieve the same goal is also illegal, depending on those same factors. Paid coaching is still legal, provided that it is actual coaching and not a cover for account sharing or team carrying in games where that is prohibited. And lastly, advertising illegal boosting services — either in a “banner ads on a website” sense, or a “hey kid, you wanna gain some levels” sense — is now also prohibited.

Boosting is big business in Korea, where professional esports players have been able to earn extra cash by leveling other people’s accounts. Kim Su-min and Son Min-seok, both members of Blizzard’s Overwatch League, were temporarily suspended from official league activity last year for their involvement in the boosting industry.

Blizzard has been particularly aggressive in punishing ne’er-do-wells in South Korea, where it has publicly listed the usernames of more than 18,000 accounts banned for toxic behaviors. As explained by Overwatch lead designer Jeff Kaplan in a forums post from 2017, “boosting is bad and we are very actively working on preventing and punishing this behavior. Rules like the 500 SR differential in Comp above Diamond exist because of Boosting. There is nothing about Boosting that is acceptable and we want you to know that we are taking great efforts to minimize the impact on ‘fair’ players.” (For context, “SR” stands for “Skill Rank” in Overwatch, which serves as the overall measure of your ability when matchmaking.)

The implementation of this new legislation comes right on the heels of Auto Chess‘ meteoric ascendance to the heights of global popularity, which immediately spawned copycat equivalents from major developers. Valve’s DOTA Underlords and Riot’s Teamfight Tactics are both prime candidates for account boosting, and while we’re sure the new law will stem the tide to some extent, life finds a way. The law only applies to South Korea after all, and as far as we’re able to tell, it doesn’t prohibit the purchase of an account that has already been boosted in another territory.

Which isn’t to recommend that as a way of circumventing Korean law, of course, nor does it imply that we at Fanbyte run a lucrative Animal Jam account boosting service on the side. This website definitely does not exist for money laundering purposes and is in no way affiliated with multiple shadow governments and/or lizard people.

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Jordan Mallory

Jordan Mallory is a 10-year games industry veteran with more heart than sense. Lover of frogs and dedicated Girls' Generation S♥NE. Mr. August, Men of Game Development 2015.

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