The alleged PS4 cryptomining farm in Ukraine that made headlines last week is supposed to be a bot farm for Fifa Ultimate Team.
The enormous power consumption from a warehouse in the Ukrainian city of Vinnytsia had not only shaken the region’s security of supply, but also called the secret service onto the scene. The security forces found 3,800 Playstation 4s, 500 graphics cards and other hardware in the warehouse. According to the secret service, it should have been a crypto mining farm, which would be unusual with the rather unsuitable consoles. Now a Ukrainian newspaper has come up with a different explanation.
Bot farm: rip off with Fifa gambling
During their research, the colleagues at the Delo newspaper came across further inconsistencies. If the alleged crypto miners are already using PS4 consoles, why then those in the slim version and not Pro devices that create up to 4.2 teraflops instead of 1.84 teraflops and only cost around 100 dollars more. In addition, the Ukrainian journalists discovered game discs in the pictures. Market observers reinforced their assumption that this is likely to be a bot farm with which the operators made money by playing games (Grind) in the FIFA Ultimate Team (Fut) mode.
The costs for the hardware equipment alone are likely to have been up to a million euros. In addition, the bot farm operators are said to have incurred electricity costs of the equivalent of 200,000 to 300,000 euros per month. Accordingly, they must have earned a lot with their business or at least have planned such earnings.
An unspecified source from the Ukrainian secret service is said to have put an end to the speculation. Bots played FIFA games via the game consoles in order to produce large numbers of in-game currency on specially set up accounts. These virtual coins can then be used to buy packages with valuable stars like Lionel Messi. Players usually spend a lot of real money on this. Alternatively, the accounts including the in-game currency can also be sold themselves. In any case, the Ultimate Team black market is big.
EA makes a lot of money with Ultimate Team mode
And with the mode, Fifa developer Electronic Arts (EA) earns a lot of money. According to a document that EA has made available to the US Securities and Exchange Commission, the game provider expects sales of 1.62 billion US dollars for the Ultimate Team segment in 2021. In addition to Fifa, this also includes Madden NFL and NHL. The soccer sector is likely to have the largest share of these sales.
The so-called loot boxes, through which players can buy football stars for their ultimate team – chance of winning with top stars: around one percent – are repeatedly confronted with the accusation of gambling. That is why they have been banned in Belgium since 2018. Most recently EA had to pay $ 5.85 million for this allegation. In addition, information was leaked in the spring that should show how EA is trying to get gamers to buy the loot boxes. For example, by making the games necessary for alternative fundraising increasingly boring.