The art of selling virtual cards for profit is one that has existed for nearly 10 years in gaming. FIFA 12 introduced the now mandatory-in-every-EA-Sports-game Ultimate Team mode, where you can play to earn in-game currency to spend on packs with the hope that you luck out on a rare player to help you take that next step towards team perfection. There are countless “pack opening” videos on YouTube – during the trend’s peak, it was seemingly all you’d be able to see on the homepage full of recommended videos to watch. These cards have an insane value to them – and one alleged employee recently took that too far in FIFA 21, and “EA Gate” with their decision to sell some cards on the black market.
Content Granting – the feature that directly gives players the items that they buy/pull from packs, has now been temporarily disabled while EA investigates this whole saga. Leaked WhatsApp conversations detail deals being struck between an alleged employee of EA and interested buyers for certain cards for a price. EA recently posted an update on their website announcing their investigation and explaining how content granting works, along with the occasions where they would grant a user content that they would otherwise have to play the game to unlock. This includes PR occasions, like when a popular football player will be given their card to be used in their account, to QA purposes.
We have launched a rigorous investigation, narrowing how this may have happened and identifying those accounts which have received content through this illicit method. We will permanently ban any accounts identified as receiving items transferred nefariously, and we have suspended all discretionary content granting for an indefinite period.
Once again, we highly value and appreciate the commitment and support of the FIFA community in helping identify this issue and will continue to provide updates as the investigation progresses towards conclusion.” – EA Sports
This has led to a wider discussion about loot boxes and the transparency of Ultimate Team odds – the cards in question that were traded were Icon and Prime Icon cards – each of which has less than an estimated 1% chance of dropping. We also await the results of the internal investigation – we will update you when we know more.