A possible major scandal is brewing with EA Sports and the FIFA Ultimate Team community in regards to card selling. According to multiple players and online users, someone is selling rare elite cards to players in exchange for a large some of money.
Think of it as a Black Market for FIFA Ultimate Team players.
How Long has FIFA Ultimate Team Card Selling Been a Problem?
Rumors have been circulating over the past week about a way to straight-up buy FUT Icons, some of the strongest items in FIFA Ultimate Team. The large-scale revelation, however, came when earlier Wednesday morning, Twitter user FutArcade posted a series of screenshots accompanied by the hashtag #EAGATE. The screenshots appear to show a conversation between an anonymous buyer and seller discussing the terms of a transaction for FUT Icons.
— Arcade-Fut (@FutArcade) March 10, 2021
The screenshots suggest a few troubling things. First, whoever is selling these icons is not doing so for cheap. The seller is offering a set of three Icons for 750 Euros (about $895), or three Icons and two Team of the Year items for 1000 Euros ($1193). Other prices have indicated cards being sold for as much at $2,500
That’s a pretty penny!
Second, the transaction is not through a third-party, which is common in secondary market Ultimate Team sales. The seller claims they simply need the buyers PlayStation Network ID or EA ID. Then, the buyer has the Icons added, untradeable, to their account. This kind of transaction would be hard to do if you didn’t work at EA and have access to the game’s back end.
Another Twitter user, SpursLife2, added credence to the theory that EA employees were selling the items. After FutArcade’s #EAGATE post, SpursLife2 tweeted at the EA Help account “HEY, Please DM, I want to buy Prime Moments!”
EA DELETED THE COMMENT NOW OMG😭😭😭😭😭😭😭 pic.twitter.com/5DDQKBlBBo
— Kingdombele (@Kingdombele) March 10, 2021
In the time since, a reddit thread on r/FUT has posted even more screenshots from alleged buyers. The screenshots reveal several other price points, all for the same package: 3 Icons, or 3 Icons plus 2 Team of the Year items. Other screenshots show the untradeable Icon items, all top rated items. For reference, FUTHead has a database that lets you rank FUT items by their overall rating. Players from the front page with ratings in the 90s are well represented in these screen shots.
FIFA Ultimate Team is Major Business for EA Sports
For over a decade, Electronic Arts has relied heavily on the business model of its Ultimate Team game mode. EA sells loot boxes that contain Ultimate Team items, which unlock various athletes from different eras, and of different strengths. Like any trading card game or gacha game, Ultimate Team packs contain a random assortment of items from a larger pool. The stronger an athlete, the rarer they are to pull, and the more packs a player needs to theoretically buy in order to optimize their Ultimate Team.
Ultimate Team is a top earner, too. In fiscal year 2020, Ultimate Team pulled in $1.49 billion alone for EA. Ultimate Team is an institutional cash cow, but it may be earning some EA employees a little more money, as well. A few hours ago, EA announced on Twitter that it is “aware of the allegations currently circulating within our community related to FIFA 21 Ultimate Team.” EA is launching a “thorough investigation,” but it’s very unclear exactly what’s being investigated.
— EA SPORTS FIFA (@EASPORTSFIFA) March 10, 2021
Why #EAGATE Could Mean Big Trouble
What makes it an even bigger problem is when you think about how much cards like this go for on the FIFA Ultimate Team market. On average, you’re looking at spending 12-14 million FUT Coins to buy a single player. That is if you don’t miraculously rip one from a pack.
Currently, there are only three ways to earn FUT Coins in FIFA 21:
- Playing matches in Ultimate Team
- Completing Squad Building Challenges that have Coins as part of the reward
- Selling items or players for a fair price on the Transfer Market
With no way to actually purchase coins, you can tell that it would take a long – and we mean a long – time to get the coins necessary to buy even one of those elite players. Being able to just buy them outright via a Black Market, of sorts, immediately gives players a massively unfair advantage. There are dozens of Professional FIFA 21 players that don’t even have cards like that. That’s how rare they truly are.
So, with this out in the open, what happens now? Until EA’s investigation ends, it’s tough to tell. Should the company find out the person – or persons – responsible for this, it’s a certainty that their time working for EA is through. Not only that, it wouldn’t be surprising to see legal action taken against the individual(s) due to buying coins and cards for real money is against EA’s current rules.
Another thing to consider is will the players who purchased these cards by other means be punished for this? Will they get their accounts banned? The cards taken away? If either of those things happen, you’re looking at players losing thousands of dollars. That could lead to lawsuits, not only against the employee but the company itself.
Over the past couple of years, EA has gone hard after third-party FIFA Ultimate Team coin resellers. There’s no way EA can afford to turn the other cheek in this instance.
Should EA Take Some Blame for the FIFA Ultimate Team Card Selling Scandal?
One argument throughout all of this is that EA should take some blame. The cards that have been purchased, as mentioned earlier, are extremely rare. So rare that many players think they are nearly impossible to earn through normal means in FIFA 21.
One of those players is EA Game Changer Karasuno Mav. In a video he posted on Twitter he flat out says that EA is to blame for #EAGate.
“Now, I don’t agree with it and obviously people buying ICONs is not acceptable,” he said. “But at the same time, I’m sorry and EA I know you’re not going to want to hear this and I’m a Game Changer, but this is your fault. This is literally your fault, this is all on you.”
Sports Gamers Online has reached out to those who have shared screenshots and claimed to have made purchases for these cards, and will update the story as we get more information.