EA Sports says the steps it has taken to keep cheaters, scammers and coin resellers out of its FIFA 15 Ultimate Team mode have shown "positive signs" in the two months since they've been implemented. Still more are coming to the game's "Transfer Market," where soccer players are traded for the game's virtual currency.
Ultimate Team, an enormously popular card-collection/management mode in the FIFA series that's also enormously popular with scammers and phishers, imposed price-range limits on players last week and ended access to the Transfer Market for two companion apps back in February.
Both steps were meant to thwart online thieves and reduce their influence over Ultimate Team's virtual economy. Fair-playing users, however, responded with enough questions as to why the steps were taken that EA Sports today recapped what this was all about, and what's coming next.
Price ranges set a floor and ceiling on a card's sale price. Basically, with so much fraudulent currency dumped on the market by scammers, prices for desirable players had inflated well out of reach of those playing the game legitimately.
A minimum price, however, is necessary to battle the fraudulent exchange of coins. EA Sports forbids coin sales, and the only way to obtain them is through the game itself, but coin sellers have still found ways to pull off exchanges through distorted Transfer Market sales. Coin sellers often use players with listed values much lower than their maximum range to transfer coins.
The minimum price is meant to cut deeply into the excess price for which this card is sold, making it an unattractive vehicle for these transfers. A maximum also means a common player can't be sold for a superstar price to facilitate the same type of coin sale, usually conducted through an offline agreement between buyer and seller.
"We understand that the minimum price range has been a frustration for many of you, but it's a necessary part of eliminating coin selling in FUT," EA Sports wrote in a blog post today. "We'll continue to adjust Price Ranges for players in order to find the right balance for the Transfer Market."
EA Sports promised that ranges would be wide enough to allow legitimate card sellers to still turn a worthwhile profit.
In February, EA Sports removed transfer market access for the web application and mobile companion application serving FIFA 15, calling it an "urgent" move to put a stop to fraudulent activity occurring through those apps.
"These apps became one of the main methods for coin sellers and farmers use to [sic] move coins quickly through the FUT economy," EA Sports said. Right now it doesn't appear these apps will access the Transfer Market anytime soon. "We are working as hard as we can to bring them back for everyone to use, but we can't do that until we've made them secure and more stable."
Much more can be read in this EA Sports blog post and FAQ.
Ultimate Team, which turned six years old last week, is an enormous revenue-driver for EA Sports. Players are able to purchase the currency (but not exchange it with others) that buys packs of randomized players to fill out their squad and try to assemble the titular ultimate team.
That has meant hundreds of millions in revenue, not just for FIFA Ultimate Team, but also for subsequent modes in the Madden NFL and NHL series. It has inspired imitators in the NBA 2K and MLB The Show series as well.
It's also made it a popular target for phishers, who hijack players' accounts, rack up fraudulent credit card charges buying coins, then use the currency to pick up rare items that are sold later.