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Illegal Crypto Farm Was Also Mining FIFA 21 Characters

The Security Service of Ukraine
(Image credit: The Security Service of Ukraine)

When we reported that the Security Service of Ukraine shut down 'a cryptocurrency mining farm' that was stealing power directly from a power plant located nearby and seized tens of CPUs, hundreds of graphics cards, and 3,800 PlayStation 4 Slim game consoles, we knew that something was off since mining on PS4 Slim didn't exactly seem like a good idea. We were right as apparently the farm was actually used to get rare characters in FIFA 2021. 

As pictures from the SSU demonstrated, Sony's PlayStation 4 Slim game consoles had game discs in them, something you do not need when you want to mine Ethereum or Bitcoin. As it turned out, the game in question was FIFA 21 and the farm was used to earn in-game currency and/or get rare characters. The farm operators could then sell these accounts for money, according to Delo.ua (via 3DNews).  

Like many other sports games these days, FIFA 21 has an Ultimate Team mode that theoretically allows gamers to build a dream team of players using cards from lootboxes. Lootboxes can be purchased either using in-game currency or for real money. The caveat is that the chance to get a truly powerful character is less than 1%, so it is possible to spend a ton of money and not get a decent player. Meanwhile, obtaining in-game currency takes a lot of time since it requires loads of grinding (performing repetitive tasks).

(Image credit: The Security Service of Ukraine)

Grinding is apparently what these PlayStation 4 Slim systems controlled by PCs and a neural network were meant to do to earn in-game currency. Then, the perpetrators could either sell accounts full of in-game currency to people who wished to try their luck and get a rare player by purchasing lootboxes, or try and gain those rare characters themselves in a bid to sell it for a lot of money. Selling in-game currency is hardly too lucrative, but trying to get a rare character is hard. Considering that they had free electricity, even playing a lottery could make financial sense for them. 

With 500 graphics cards at their hands and free power, the same farm could mine Ethereum too. Meanwhile, the same 500 graphics cards could control characters in other games to train them, get in-game currency, and/or lootboxes. In any case, it looks like we have seen a pretty diversified operation that could be used both for cryptocurrency mining as well as cultivation of game characters — whichever was more profitable.

  • USAFRet
    gee....whoda thunk that criminals could multitask, with someone elses resources.
    Reply
  • spentshells
    I keep forgetting how popular football really is being from north america... it's as if the sport doesn't really exist here, but for the rest of the world it's pretty much the only sport that exists in any meaningful way
    Reply
  • scottsoapbox
    FIFA characters are a scam and a pyramid scheme!!

    (and all of the other rote crypto comments)
    Reply
  • 10tacle
    spentshells said:
    I keep forgetting how popular football really is being from north america... it's as if the sport doesn't really exist here, but for the rest of the world it's pretty much the only sport that exists in any meaningful way

    That's true but "soccer" as we call it in America is percieved as more of a starter sport for kids and never taken seriously beyond grade school into college or professional sports (just ask the NCAA or pro-soccer sports leagues about sponsorship and donor scholarship revenue and major network broadcast or cable TV time). We Americans have always enjoyed hands on sports (basketball, football, and baseball specifically) as our pastime sports. Soccer to us just doesn't garner interest because - and let's face it - it is rather boring to watch. Kick a ball up and down a field for an hour before even one score happens.

    This means not only is it more boring to watch by American eyes, but it is also more limiting in terms of what talent can be on the team. If you have good coordinated feet great! If you don't have great throwing or catching arms and hands, then no problem! The American big three sports allow a wider range of people with different body types and athletic skills to still be top players in a given sport as well as specialize in their player position (football specifically like where a defensive linebacker can't throw a ball very accurately if intercepted). So that encourages wider participation, and a more interesting spectator experience. Soccer just doesn't do it for us - and the throwing of games for a fake injury will piss us off forever.

    And yes, I know I am speaking in general for an entire nation. But the statistics for soccer of viewership, sponsorship and collegiate scholarship money, and TV air time speak for themselves.
    Reply
  • SyDiko
    This is what happens when you monetize video games.
    Reply
  • jepeman
    Gambling in videogames targeted to minors really should be illegal.
    Just slap 18+ (or 21+) age restriction on the gambling games on top of having to abide to all the gambling laws.
    Reply
  • gg83
    I know people who drop at least $2,000 on MLB lootboxes each year a new game comes out. Then they trade the cards for real money or something like that.
    Reply
  • Geezer760
    10tacle said:
    That's true but "soccer" as we call it in America is percieved as more of a starter sport for kids and never taken seriously beyond grade school into college or professional sports (just ask the NCAA or pro-soccer sports leagues about sponsorship and donor scholarship revenue and major network broadcast or cable TV time). We Americans have always enjoyed hands on sports (basketball, football, and baseball specifically) as our pastime sports. Soccer to us just doesn't garner interest because - and let's face it - it is rather boring to watch. Kick a ball up and down a field for an hour before even one score happens.

    This means not only is it more boring to watch by American eyes, but it is also more limiting in terms of what talent can be on the team. If you have good coordinated feet great! If you don't have great throwing or catching arms and hands, then no problem! The American big three sports allow a wider range of people with different body types and athletic skills to still be top players in a given sport as well as specialize in their player position (football specifically like where a defensive linebacker can't throw a ball very accurately if intercepted). So that encourages wider participation, and a more interesting spectator experience. Soccer just doesn't do it for us - and the throwing of games for a fake injury will piss us off forever.

    And yes, I know I am speaking in general for an entire nation. But the statistics for soccer of viewership, sponsorship and collegiate scholarship money, and TV air time speak for themselves.
    I used to be a big "Football" fan back in the 90s, but now days I hate all sports, it's all boring Football, soccor, baseball, basketball, hokey, golf it's all the same thing over and over watching a bunch of guys move a ball from one end to the other, "Like wow yeaaaa, yippie, hooray!" We should be more concentrated, and pay teachers more money, because sports players are way over payed , and have better educated teachers, so our kids the future of this world is a better place for them and the earth, so that means a better education for our children is a better investment and more important imo, than any sport. Education is key for a better future and our children's future so that maybe they can hopefully fix the big mess this world is in now. but that's just my opinion.
    Reply
  • bigdragon
    If this is happening with PS4, then I would expect it's also happening with PS5. We can rage about crypto miners screwing up the GPU market, and now we can rage about EA farmers screwing up the console market.
    Reply
  • Joseph_138
    If they're using crypto farms to cheat at FIFA, then they're using them to cheat at other games, too.
    Reply