EA has really been under fire for the past few years, and it just seems like they can’t catch a break. The publisher was caught in yet another controversial scandal that lit the social media on fire after a number of screenshots surfaced, showing what seems to be one or multiple EA employees selling FIFA Ultimate Team cards for ludicrous prices reaching into the thousands.
The company has earned a very bad reputation across various gaming circles, mainly due to shady business practices involving egregious microtransactions and DLC-heavy game releases, but also for monopolising certain gaming franchises and running smaller studios into the ground. This new wave of accusations is just the icing on the cake.
The screenshots started circulating the social media over the past few days, showing conversations where certain rare FIFA Ultimate Team cards were being sold for very high prices, going up to $1.700 in certain cases. In a classic EA fashion, these items are only obtainable through random loot packs, making them very rare and highly desirable. It’s not only the rarity of the cards, but the actual stats they come with – which are absolutely top tier compared to everything else in the game.
These alleged claims are not yet verified, and we’re left in the dark as to whether there’s just one or multiple employees involved. The EA have already launched an investigation into the matter, stating the following:
“We are aware of the allegations currently circulating within our community related to FIFA 21 Ultimate Team items. A thorough investigation is underway, and if we identify improper conduct, we will make swift action.”
The community was visibly outraged, and a hashtag #EAGate quickly started trending on Twitter. Not only was the anger directed towards the company for the alleged employee involvement, but also because of the impact it could have on the game’s economy. Situations like this impact the legitimate players the most, especially the ones who spent huge amounts of real money chasing the rare cards through microtransactions or in-game player trades. The main drive for these players to spend as much as they do is to collect rare and prestigious items, and this will potentially diminish that value and perhaps make some people stop buying in the future or outright quit the game.
The EA addressed the community concerns with the following statement: “We understand how this creates concern about unfair balance in the game and competition. We will update the community as we get more clarity on the situation.”
This has just added fuel to an already raging fire that is EA reputation, and could certainly turn into a PR nightmare if the allegations turn out to be true. Once again, the actual players get the short end of the stick and the cycle repeats itself. Microtransactions, while appealing at first, bring a whole host of troubles along the way. The game balance usually goes out of the window, and the low spending players are always left in the dust to pick up the leftover crumbs and try to get by, while the big spenders get to actually enjoy the game to the fullest. Unless something changes in the gaming industry, situations like this one will continue to be a common occurrence.