FIFA May Have Had A “Handicap Glitch” For Seven Years

Ever played a competitive game and been so convinced that something fishy was going on? The game was ignoring your inputs; the computer had quietly had nerfed your side; rubberbanding was giving your opponents an unfair chance. According to the FIFA community, you might have been right sometimes.

Members of the FIFA 16 community think they’ve found a way in which the game isn’t giving players the high stats it should. It might be a bug, it might be a deliberate balance measure, or it might be nothing at all, but it involves items you buy with real money and it fits squarely within my area of interest.

A post on Reddit explains everything in greater detail, but I’ll summarise.

FIFA Ultimate Team is a mode in which you construct football teams from cards, where each card represents a footballer. Play footballers alongside each other on the pitch according to certain rules, and they get a boost to their ‘Chemistry’. The higher the chemistry rating, the better the buff that gets applied to the footballer’s skills – meaning more accurate passing, better shooting, that sort of thing.

Except it seems that in some instances footballers haven’t been getting those boosts from their chemistry rating. This apparently applies to ‘in form’ versions of cards, which are issued when a footballer is playing well in real life. ‘In form’ cards already have a stats boost, so perhaps this is just a way in which EA are trying to stop buffs from stacking, but the community is frustrated because how it works is never explained and because people spend a lot of money – theoretically hundreds or thousands of pounds – to construct teams that have maximum chemistry ratings.

Here’s a video by RighteousOnix that shows what’s happening and shows how it was discovered:

This kind of thing is significant whenever there’s real money involved, but it’s also a symptom of the way in which FIFA works. It’s a game you play cooperatively with the computer, negotiating control over players who don’t do what you want sometimes because you did it wrong, sometimes because of auto-targeting, sometimes because of opaque player stats. It creates a certain kind of paranoia, especially given how competitive the game can be. If the above is real, and if it really has been in the game for the last seven iterations as suspected, then it’s clear that all defeats are void and I am much better at the game than my friends.

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  1. Lexx87 says:

    I do like the comments on that sheet:

    ‘The cause of some of Graham’s wildest seat-wiggling.’

  2. slartibartfast says:

    I’m glad some solid evidence has been found to prove it but I had convinced myself this was the case long ago. Play an ultimate team game with all your best players against a team with silvers and even bronze players and you will know straight away something fishy is going on.

    Players touches become significantly worse, formerly speedy wingers start to run like sumo wrestlers, simple passes become impossible and most perfectly timed tackles will somehow result in the opposition player continuing with the ball.

    All of this plus plus the ridiculous odds of actually finding one of these inform players, the pathetic rewards for playing the game and the obvious ploy to get people to part with their money are what put me off this series completely.

    Sad because I always like to have football game in my life but unfortunately none of the big two are fit for purpose.

  3. Pogs says:

    Unfortunately you’ll probably find in the T&C that you of course read thoroughly (as do we all) for the game, that there’s a clause in there along these lines: ‘we as *insert games company name here* can and will do whatever they hell we like so please keep giving us money k tyvm and btw here is the number of our expensive law firm if you want to challenge us’.

    • yogibbear says:

      It says that you have to read and agree to the terms and conditions, so of course we all read every single word in there and don’t just scroll straight to the bottom and click accept, that would be lazy and foolish. It might say “all your belongings and future net worth belong to us”.

      • Pogs says:

        Don’t tell but I’m pretty sure I’ve skipped the odd clause here and there when reading the T&C for a game. To guard against the goons at the door, I’ve transfer all my assets – including sofa, pc and snacks – into the ownership of a shell company based in an off shore tax haven.

        • Premium User Badge

          DelrueOfDetroit says:

          Who at least have the common decency of letting you know they will murder you if you break the rules!

  4. popej says:

    To be honest I’ve always found the rubber banding in both major football game franchises to be bloody obvious. I played PES to death in the early noughties (on PC) and it was incredibly frustrating when the AI controlled team would score (e.g.) 4 in a row when I was leading 3-0, the last goal usually in the last minute or two. You just knew when the attack went forward that a goal was inevitable, despite every shot being saved when it was 0-0.

    Similarly if I was playing another human being I’d have been just as well served by putting the controller down for all the difference my efforts to prevent late equalisers/winners made. Only through intense concentration and ‘gaming’ the defensive systems to prevent shots, would you stand any chance of preventing the late goals.

    It’s always puzzled me that Konami and EA never included a simple switch to turn it off/on. It’s one of game developers dirtiest of secrets as far as I’m concerned.

  5. Capt. Bumchum McMerryweather says:

    This is what makes me find the competitive viability of these games highly suspect. Every other game that is played competitively, such as StarCraft, CS, DotA, LoL etc have very defined systems which can be dissected and explored in order to improve thyself.

    It’s clear though, that FIFA has loads of invisible shit going on, and has completely unreliable AI controlled aspects. How EA (or any FIFA customers for that matter) can think that such an opaque set of systems could have any credibility whatsoever is beyond me.

    • Alevice says:

      Considering their yearly releases, I dont think it lies in their best interest to have one version to stick competitively. They just want non dedicated consumers to have some fun under a false layer of mechanical sophistication.

  6. ROMhack2 says:

    I remember a few years ago me and a friend played through a mock world cup where New Zealand ended up winning the whole thing.

    New Zealand?! You might exasperate. Yes, New Zealand.

    Thing is we kept switching sides so it wasn’t like one of us had any advantage whatsoever. The game just always seems to have had some funky algorithms in place that equal things up. It’s most apparent when you get a red card and your team turns to shit (fairly, probably).

    Plus, whenever I lose it’s clearly because the game has cheated me out of a win, obviously.

  7. Zankman says:

    Hm, I thought that this would be about the AI scripting in PvE games; But, I guess, there are also some issue in the PvP game as well.

  8. Press X to Gary Busey says:

    Definitely maybe Schrödinger steroids.

  9. lemonide says:

    I knew it!!!

  10. AdmiralBosch says:

    FIFA corrupt? Impossible!

  11. Unsheep says:

    ‘…the computer had quietly had nerfed your side; rubberbanding was giving your opponents an unfair chance. According to the FIFA community, you might have been right sometimes.’ – Graham Smith

    Oh I have definitely experienced the “nerfening”, it actually feels very obvious each time it happens; you DO notice when your guys suddenly become sluggish and sloppy. It’s especially noticeable when you play 2- or 3-star teams.

    It’s the same with EA’s NHL games though. In one match your guys are fast and accurate, the next they skate around like gorillas swinging baseball bats.

  12. haldolium says:

    Never. Clean sport, clean games.

  13. Collieuk says:

    Remember when football games were just about football and who was the better player….wtf is with these card based modes etc? ? Imagine Tetris being made now: unless you bought a bonus brick pack you’d only get those annoying offset 2×2 blocks.