EA Sports has announced that it is investigating allegations employees are selling rare player cards following widespread concern within the FIFA 21 fanbase.
The cards are used in FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT), an online multiplayer mode that generates enormous revenues for EA Sports, and often feature players with superior abilities, giving their owners an advantage in matches.
In a statement the company said it was “aware of the allegations currently circulating within our community”, adding: “A thorough investigation is under way, and if we identify improper conduct, we will take swift action.”
Screenshots of direct messages circulating among fans – which Sky News has not verified – appear to show an EA Sports employee or employees offering to directly sell rare cards to gamers for cash.
Although these messages have not been verified, and could be the work of a scammer, they have caused outrage among the FIFA 21 community.
The cards cannot normally be directly purchased, although some tradable cards can be purchased in the game if players spend real-world currency to acquire EA Sports tokens, or acquire those tokens through playing.
Non-tradable cards can only be acquired through luck, with players needing to be rewarded with them as they are randomly distributed throughout packs which can again be bought for tokens.
The random nature of rewards in these packs has led to EA being accused of designing loot boxes, which a parliamentary inquiry called to be recognised as a form of gambling and banned from being sold to children.
But now in alleged screenshots of conversations between an EA employee and potential customers, the employee suggested they could send these rare cards directly to the player.
In return they asked to be paid in cash, suggesting some customers had paid several thousand pounds, but would require the customer’s gaming ID.
EA stated: “We want to be clear – this type of behaviour is unacceptable, and we in no way condone what is alleged to have happened here. 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,” the company added.