Last week, what was thought to be a cryptocurrency mining operation in Ukraine was raided to discover more than 5,000 devices - including 3,800 PlayStation 4 Slims - in a warehouse. Now, it transpires that the individuals using the consoles' power were in fact farming FIFA Ultimate Team cards.
Cool. Cool cool cool. The issue about the cryptocurrency claim was that a PlayStation 4 isn't the most efficient doodad out there for mining cryptocurrency, even if you've got thousands of the things switched on and siphoning electricity from the city of Vinnytsia. However, shortages of GPUs might have pushed a person to invest approximately $1.5 million in consoles and other devices to generate cryptocurrency while options like GeForce 30 series graphic cards are so scarce and so expensive. Thinking outside of the box is admirable, but according to this report from Delo and photos from the Ukrainian Security Service, these PlayStation 4 Slims were actually playing FIFA 21 automatically to accrue in-game currency and farm Ultimate Team cards. Jury's out on whether this is better or worse than the original theory that this warehouse was mining cryptocurrency instead, as the two aren't the most charitable of economic ventures.
Behold - the glory of playing FIFA across three ginormous screens. This is truly the beautiful game right here, if you've got the disposable cash and the space to splash out like this.
If you're bamboozled over the reason why people would go to such lengths on a covert operation to generate fake money and cards in a football video game, let me offer you a number. $1.62 billion. That's the amount of cheddar that Electronic Arts made on Ultimate Team in the fiscal year of 2020. Granted, that statistic does cover FIFA, Madden, NHL, NBA and UFC games which all feature an Ultimate Team mode. However, "a substantial portion of [this] was derived from FIFA Ultimate Team," said the publisher in its report. Additionally, the sales of FIFA 21 were calculated to bring in about $1.6 billion to the company, whereas the profits from live services soared to $4 billion in that same window of time.
"FIFA Ultimate Team players grew 16% year-over-year and FUT matches were up 180%," said Electronic Arts in its fiscal report for 2020. So, those accounts that have a lot of in-game currency to spare or even the accounts themselves will sell for some serious cash. Cast your mind back to the shocking scandal that an EA employee was selling Ultimate Team cards on the black market for €1,000 for two Prime Moments, €1,400 for three, and €1,700 for three prime moments with two Team of the Year players.
Recently, the company announced a move to allow players to see what is inside an Ultimate Team Pack before the customer buys it with their hard-earned FUT Coins or FIFA Points, so it is hoped that the structure and mechanics of this part of the game become easier to navigate and enjoy by its players.
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