EA has indicated that some of its employees may have been selling FIFA 21 items to players for cash.
Last week, the publisher launched an investigation into illicit real-money 'content granting' in FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT) after screenshots shared online appeared to show EA employees offering to sell rare player cards for sums of cash ranging from $1200 to $2000.
EA acknowledged the allegations were concerning, and pledged to launch a "thorough investigation." Now, just a few days later, the company had found some evidence that "one or more EA accounts, which were either compromised or being used inappropriately by someone within EA, directly entitled items to these individual accounts."
"Our initial investigation shows questionable activity involving a very small number of accounts and items. Although it is not a large number, if these allegations prove out, this activity is unacceptable," added the company in a statement. "We want to thank our committed community members for bringing the issue to our attention so quickly."
Although EA intends to complete its investigation before taking action, it has pledged to reprimand any employee found to have sold FIFA 21 items to players, and will permanently ban any player known to have bought cards from its staff. The items themselves will also be removed from the FUT ecosystem.
In the meantime, the company has suspended all discretionary content granting for an indefinite period -- with the system having been put in place to let staff members gift content for legitimate means such as testing, marketing, and resolving customer experience issues.
"Regardless of these actions, we appreciate how concerning this is to all of our players, and we apologize for the impact of these improper grants within the community. We also appreciate how extremely annoying and frustrating it is that this practice might have come from within EA," continued the company.
"We’re angry too. We know that the trust of our communities is hard-earned, and is based on principles of Fair Play. This illicit activity shakes that trust. We've also been clear since the creation of Ultimate Team that items cannot be exchanged outside our game, and that’s key to how we keep our game safe from manipulation and bad actors. This is a breach of that principle, as well -- and we won’t let it stand."