Cheaters at FIFA's lucrative Ultimate Team mode have led to the removal of the transfer market feature from the FIFA 14 web and mobile apps, but developer EA Canada is putting measures in place to punish cheaters, improve the stability of the transfer market on the consoles, educate players on the company's banning procedures, and restore the feature for the web and mobile apps.
We talked to Marcel Kuhn, lead producer of the franchise's Ultimate Team mode, who said that the developer has been aware of players using bots to farm enormous amounts of coins (the currency for purchasing player cards and other items in the mode's transfer market) and then re-sell them via outside websites. "It just now has reached the point where we have a lot of set up in the background and dedicated teams around this where we can put the proper effort on this."
Coin farming has not only affected the balance and pricing of the transfer market, but also the overall stability and usability for everyone. The illegal bots work at such an inhuman speed – EA says that bots generate four times as many transfer market searches than all human FUT players put together – that it not only causes stress and outages for EA's servers, but also edges out players from winning bids they've placed on Ultimate Team items.
Cheaters have also affected FIFA 14's Pro Clubs mode (through the artificial boosting of players' attributes) and falsified match results in the FIFA Interactive World Cup online tournament and PC Ultimate Team matches.
EA says it's not only developing methods to counter the different ways in which some players try to game the system, but is also educating gamers on its ban process.
Kuhn says that in general EA is going to be more lenient for those found to be using bot coins or promoting coin-selling websites, as compared to anyone found actually selling and/or farming coins. We asked how EA can tell that someone is using farmed-coins, and he explained, "There are specific ways and means how people exchange the coins in the game via transfers, and that's what we monitor essentially."
He also assured us that there are also processes for gamers who believe they've been wrongfully carded or banned.
As for the web and mobile transfer markets, Kuhn says that the feature will return with a new web platform/mobile app for FIFA 15, but could not specify whether they will be ready for the launch of the game on September 23. Historically, once the new app is released it supplants the old one, so it's not expected that the web/mobile transfer markets will be restored for FIFA 14 players.
Kuhn says there may be UI changes in FIFA 15 to the transfer market, but most of the security improvements will happen behind the scenes, allowing it to remain much the same to players. "In the end, I don't think we would artificially touch the transfer market or the actual value of the items in the game. We have to fix the root cause, which is the influx of the coins that causes the economy to be affected by it."
For more info on the game's ban procedures, check out this official blog post.