While initial reports last week indicated that an enormous warehouse discovered in Ukraine packed full of PS4 consoles was being used to mine crypto, a little further investigation has found that the machines were probably being used to farm FIFA Ultimate Team cards.
Is that better? Worse? I’ll leave it up to you. Ukrainian site Delo didn’t buy the initial explanation of it being a crypto farm based on the type of machine being used (PS4s? Not very economical vs graphics cards) but also the fact that in some of the images release by Ukrainian security forces last week you could see game discs popping out of the consoles.
Sources told Delo that the warehouse was actually likely being used as a farm to obtain and sell FIFA Ultimate Team cards, with the PS4 consoles playing the game automatically in order to obtain in-game currency, and either the coins accrued or even the account itself can be resold on the market for actual money.
If this all sounds like a lot of work just for some accounts and coins, then you may not be aware of just how much money is sloshing around the FIFA community. Last year, for example, EA’s Ultimate Team sales amounted to over $1.6 billion across the company’s entire lineup, with EA specifically pointing out that “a substantial portion…was derived from FIFA Ultimate Team”.
That’s not overall FIFA sales. That’s just in-game digital sales surrounding FIFA’s Ultimate Team mode, which is built around the idea of constructing a team for online play by paying for decks of virtual cards that contain random assortments of virtual players.
Having faced increasing scrutiny over the game mode, which many allege is simply gambling—and has resulted in outright bans in regions like Belgium—EA has taken steps recently to try and change the way Ultimate Team cards are purchased, like allowing players to preview the contents of a pack before buying it.