EA Sports has detailed strict new steps it will take to detect and punish those involved in FIFA Ultimate Team scams.
In an open letter to FIFA players entitled 'Showing Cheaters The Red Card', the studio has pledged to crack down on those using bots to farm Ultimate Team coins, as well as those buying or selling coins on third-party websites.
Coins are a FIFA Ultimate Team currency that can be earned in-game by playing matches and trading players. EA does not sell coins and states that it has no plans to do so, considering the sale of coins as 'cheating'.
As part of the studio's new ban process, players caught buying or promoting will be punished with a three-step process, involving:
- Step 1 (Warning) - Warning email and in-game message.
- Step 2 (Yellow Card) - Reset of FIFA Ultimate Team club and FIFA Points returned
- Step 3 (Red Card) - Permanent ban from FIFA online
Meanwhile, players found to be selling coins, or using bots to farm coins, will be subject so a simple one-step process:
- Step 1 (Straight Red) - Permanent online ban for all EA games
According to EA's letter, a number of players use 'bots' to automatically buy players from the Ultimate Team transfer market in order to farm coins, with the intention of selling them on for real money.
"The FIFA Ultimate Team infrastructure is designed to provide an optimal experience with human parameters in mind," the letter reads.
"However, our data shows that these bots generate four times as many Transfer Market searches than all human FUT players combined. This severely impacts the game and your playing experience on a daily basis.
"The use of bots and third-party bot services to automatically buy Transfer Market items in order to gain an unfair advantage is a form of cheating. Gamers detected using bots, third-party bot services, or scripts for any purpose will be subject to our ban process."
EA says it has already banned "hundreds of thousands of FIFA accounts" since February 2014 for not only selling coins, but also buying them.
However, the corporation also acknowledges that not all players are aware that buying coins from third-party websites is prohibited. In a conversation with CVG, FIFA Ultimate Team producer Marcel Kuhn said the open letter serves as a way to inform players that the practice is unacceptable.
"We've been taking counter-measures in the background for a while now, but now it's just reached a point that we want to make sure everybody understands what's going on, so when we start banning people or taking action people see that they're not the victims here," Kuhn said.
"We want to make sure they're educated in what they're actually participating in and what this causes for the whole game that they actually love, because first and foremost they're playing it because they love the game."
Other points raised in the letter include players 'match cheating' to record false match details in the PC version of FIFA Ultimate Team, and players using exploits to boost the stats of their Virtual Pro players in Pro Clubs mode. Both actions will result in a permanent FIFA online ban.
For more on the situation, read our full interview with FIFA Ultimate Team producer Marcel Kuhn.