Friday, March 12, 2021

Scandal Hits FIFA 21 Ultimate Team

If I write about a sports game, something bad happened. The Nosy Gamer is a blog that primarily covers MMORPGs. I do, however, write about real money trading and the grey/black markets that surround video games. For example, the only time I wrote about the FIFA franchise was covering the prosecution of a gambling site utilizing FIFA 17. Until now.

A pro FIFA player, Matteo Ribera from Italy, provided proof for a scandal being referred to as EAGate.

The most comprehensive coverage I've seen in the gaming press so far comes from Alice O'Conner of Rock, Paper, Shotgun. I like the healthy amount of skepticism she displayed in the article.

Other screens going round show someone claiming they have "a mate who works at EA, and he can load any player to your account". Those mention prices like €1000 (£855) for two coveted cards. Various videos and screens supposedly show proof of previous successful transactions.

There's no proof that this 'friend of a friend who works at EA' actually exists or does, mind. This could be a cover story for a glitch, exploit, or hack - the thinnest veneer of legimacy to deflect attention and keep a lucrative illicit business secret. Or a scam? I don't know. But it wouldn't be the first time someone used insider access to their own advantage.

But for actual facts, we don't have many. Electronic Arts did respond with a "We are looking into the matter" statement via Twitter.

The stakes are high for EA, as FIFA is the company's biggest franchise. In fiscal year 2020 (April 2019 through March 2020), EA's net revenue from Ultimate Team was $1.49 billion. The scandal erupted too late to significantly impact the franchise's FY 2021 performance, but anything that negatively impacts Ultimate Team is bad for EA.

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