A series of Twitter posts grouped under “#EAGATE” seemingly reveal that at least one EA employee has been selling FIFA Ultimate Team cards to fans for thousands of Euros.
For context, FIFA Ultimate Team cards are used in the franchise’s Ultimate Team mode. Described by EA as the “most popular mode in FIFA,” Ultimate Team is basically a combination of a CCG deck builder and a GM mode. Essentially, it sees you try to build the best team possible over the course of multiple in-game years largely through opening card packs that contain everything from upgrades to new players.
While it is possible to earn those packs through the course of regular play, the process can be very slow. Furthermore, the chances of getting the most valuable Ultimate Team cards (which include Icon cards and Prime Icon Moments) are so slim that they’re sometimes considered to be nonexistent in the minds of many fans.
This is where loot boxes come in. If you want to skip the grind and improve your odds, it is possible to buy FIFA Ultimate Team card packs via the in-game store. In fact, buying card packs is so popular that it’s estimated that EA earned $1.49 billion dollars in 2020 just from sales of Ultimate Team packs across their sports gaming franchises that offer them. Much of that revenue comes from FIFA players who desperately search for the rarest cards.
However, it seems that someone close to EA may be offering an alternate solution. As spotted by Eurogamer, a series of WhatsApp screenshots were recently posted to Twitter and show what appears to be conversations with an individual who claims to have a friend at EA who can directly sell players specific FIFA Ultimate Team cards. The prices listed for these cards by the seller range from €750 to €1,700.
EA has since responded to these allegations with a statement that condemns this kind of activity and promises fans that they will investigate this matter in order to determine if any EA employees were involved in this ongoing situation.
As you might imagine, that statement has done very little to address the concerns of FIFA fans everywhere. While there are certainly plenty of people who are angry at the sellers in this instance, what’s interesting to note is that many of the reactions that we’re seeing from fans aren’t focused on the individuals in this instance but rather how EA’s Ultimate Team microtransactions allowed for and encouraged this kind of activity in the first place.
That last point really gets to the heart of this matter. The funny thing is that there are many FIFA players out there who aren’t entirely opposed to the idea of spending extra money or extra time on the game. It’s not exactly what they’d prefer to do, but if it ultimately comes down to spending some extra cash on a particular card or grinding gameplay hours for a specific unlockable, there are many out there who would pay those prices.
Unfortunately, that’s not how this all works. What people spend hours of their lives and thousands of dollars on isn’t a specific card; it’s the chance to get a specific card. That element of randomness has always been the bane of the entire loot box concept, but it’s always felt especially cruel in FIFA. Not only is the game incredibly popular, but the competitive advantages offered by some of those cards can be significant. Furthermore, the odds of getting some of the game’s best cards are absurdly low. The exact odds are debatable and often kept intentionally vague, but it’s believed that you have roughly a 0.01% chance of unpacking some of those cards that are allegedly being sold directly to players by insiders.
So while it’s pretty low for an EA employee to be selling FIFA Ultimate cards to players at seemingly insane prices, it’s strangely somehow more direct than what EA does every day when they sell the microscopic possibility of acquiring those same cards.
While it’s nearly impossible to imagine that EA would stop selling Ultimate Team packs given that these card pack microtransactions are the basis of a multi-billion dollar industry, it’s certainly going to be interesting to see whether or not employees at the company are actually involved in selling cards directly. If so, it could be hard for EA to continue hiding from the twisted fact that what they’re preparing to punish is the one person at the company who seems to be willing and able to sell FIFA players everywhere what they really want to buy.