Two weeks ago we reported what we thought was a large cryptocurrency mining operation using PS4 in Ukraine, but it could not have been a mining operation. In a recent report from Delo.au, the PS4s, a total of over 3800 of them, were used as FIFA bots.
Over 3800 PS4 consoles were used as FIFA robots to level up accounts and earn in-game currency to purchase player card packs
Reporters from Delo.au were concerned about noticing disks in the console board, which would not be seen if these PS4s were used for mining. If we inspect the discs carefully, you can hardly find the design of a FIFA 21 disc. This FIFA bot operation was discovered by Ukrainian officials because it illegally drew 5 to 7 million UAH (converts to 184,000 to 258,000 USD) of electricity from the grid.
FIFA is one of the most popular video games in the world and was developed by EA with the latest version of the game as FIFA 21. The FIFA series is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the best selling sports video game series in the world. A popular mode in FIFA is FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT) mode. FUT mode allows players to build their own team of cards that can be acquired in two ways. The first way is to buy loot boxes that cost money and have an extremely low probability of getting good cards. Some countries like Belgium have banned this mechanic because it is comparable to gambling.
The other way to get these cards is to spend time playing matches in FUT mode to earn enough currency in the game to buy these packs. Since these packs have a low probability of releasing a desired player card, many packs must be opened, and to get enough currency in the game, many hours must be played to get more packs. Players resort to spending money on buying these packs.
According to Daniel Ahmad, senior analyst at Niko Partners’ research company, 30% of EA’s revenue is made on Ultimate Team (includes Madden, NHL and FIFA, but FIFA makes the most money) and EA is predicted to make $ 1.62 billion dollars from Ultimate Team in 2021. Below are the figures for how much money Ultimate Team has made on the three sports franchises.
How much does Ultimate Team EA earn across FIFA, Madden and the NFL?
EA Net income from Ultimate Team:
FY 2021: $ 1.62 billion
FY 2020: $ 1.49 billion
FY 2019: $ 1.37 billion
FY 2018: $ 1.18 billion
YEAR 2017: $ 775 million
YEAR 2016: $ 660 million
FY 2015: $ 587 million
The majority are from FIFA Ultimate Team ofc. pic.twitter.com/xUbNUx6R62
– Daniel Ahmad (@ZhugeEX) May 26, 2021
The PS4s were probably used as robots to level up accounts and get enough currency in the game by constantly playing to buy packages. These rare player or high-stakes game accounts were sold on account markets for players who wanted to open packages but did not pay the expensive prices EA offered for their currency to buy packages. Even some EA employees have taken the opportunity to make some extra money on the side by selling rare playing cards.
With the market for FIFA accounts, these Ukrainian FIFA quarrels made money by leveling accounts and collecting currency in the game, and then selling the accounts. Finally, the huge power outage from 3800 PS4 consoles led to the closure of the operation.