Right now, #EAGATE is trending on Twitter after allegations that an employee of EA has been selling FIFA 21 Ultimate Team icons directly to players. Normally these digital player cards are available in packs that have been compared to loot boxes, but some of them can also be traded over the transfer market. The tweets that set off the hashtag claim to show icons that aren’t tradeable being purchased for hundreds of euros (in one case for €1,700, or roughly $US2,026). A video shows icons that arrived directly in the purchaser’s game, all marked as having no previous owners.
EA has responded to these allegations with a statement, saying that it is aware of the situation. “A thorough investigation is underway,” it goes on, “and if we identify improper conduct, we will take swift action. We want to be clear – this type of behavior 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.”
A black market for FIFA Ultimate Team coins, which can be used to buy icons from an in-game auction house, has long been known to exist. Buying the icons directly, and having them show up in-game as if previously unowned, seems like a new development.