FIFA Ultimate Team, the popular trading card mode in FIFA 13, has been disabled since yesterday and remains completely offline.
Yesterday morning, the developers reported they were "investigating issues currently affecting [FIFA Ultimate Team] auctions," an hour before they disabled the auction system. Last night, they disabled Ultimate Team in its entirety — online gameplay, trading, store purchasing, the web app and the mobile companion app. The mode has been offline for approximately 15 hours.
FIFA 13's other online modes, such as Be A Pro Seasons and Match Day, are unaffected.
"This is to ensure that an optimal experience can be sustained in the future," said a post on the game's forums.
It's not the first time developer EA Canada has had to temporarily take down Ultimate Team, which became a target for phishing in FIFA 12 last year. Prior to FIFA 13's release in late September, the developers had to disable the Ultimate Team web app to stop players from using an exploit, and the system has been taken offline at other times after launch.
Update: Ultimate Team is now back online. According to a community manager writing on the EA Forums, the developers took the mode down "in order to restore a level playing field" after "a very small number of users attempted to gain an unfair advantage by manipulating coins." All those users have been permanently banned from playing the game.