Is the FUT Chemistry bug real or just theory?
The Abominable Snowman, the Loch Ness Monster, the Moon Landing, 9/11… FIFA Scripting. It's a list of things that should never really make sense as a collective, and yet after recent findings from within the FIFA community, it seems these alleged conspiracy theories have been thrust closer together than ever before.
But unlike Nessy, the FIFA community has amassed a lot more than blurry images of middle aged Scottish men with foam dinosaurs strapped to their head as evidence.
Please make sure you watch the brilliant summary of events below from Tom and then the equally brilliant videos by RighteousOnix and Nepenthez which detail the Chemistry Glitch in full. I won't be explaining all of the "what" here, merely exploring the why and what happens next.
TLDR - Chemistry in Ultimate Team doesn't apply properly to certain players meaning that In Forms can actually be worse statistically than their non In Form equivalents even though their face card stats are better. This glitch could have been present in Ultimate Team for years.
Watched it? Right lets move on.
When the news of FIFA’s latest scripting theory broke yesterday my initial thought was “why on earth would EA knowingly handicap their own game?” It’s something I’ve battled with during previous claims as well, and even with the latest chemistry evidence proving more compelling by the hour, I still can't shake that thought from my mind. People naturally jump to the conclusion that Evil EA are deliberately handicapping their own game, but is it really that nefarious?
I've been writing about FIFA exclusively for nearly ten years now and I've been lucky enough to visit EA many times both in the UK and in Canada, meeting a host of different developers, managers and producers in the process. And I just cannot see the people I know, consciously breaking chemistry. Call me naive, or "bought" if you must, but that's my real world view.
David Rutter’s office doesn't have a secret trap door (well, it might do… ) there are no sharks with “frickin laser beams” on their heads, and no big red evildoing button. It’s just a normal office, with normal people, making video games for a living. They love what they do and they’re as passionate as us, if not more so. But as it transpires, they may have missed one of the biggest FIFA bugs in living memory. Which as passionate as they may be, is wholly unacceptable.
Make no mistake, if this chemistry bug is proven to have been in the games code for years (the evidence proves something is awry, that much is undeniable) then the ramifications for FIFA and its community going forwards are absolutely massive. Tom mentioned “trust” a couple of times in his video, and with the perception of EA within the community generally shaky, this discovery could drive an even bigger wedge between developer and gamer. No-longer based on perception, but on reality.
We've all played video games with bugs and FIFA in general patch/release terms is no better or worse than any other. The community finds broken things and then the developers fix them. I’ve poured hours myself in to The Division most recently, which has been a bloody mess at times, far surpassing anything EA have had to patch for FIFA 16.
But this glitch, this is different.
This isn't a disconnect issue, or a menu that fails to appear. This is a potential explanation for years of assumed bad luck, bad feeling and hundreds of broken controllers. Something so deeply rooted in FIFA’s code base that it's highly likely EA didn't even know it existed. Which is the same as knowing, and doing nothing about it. It's their job to know.
We’ve all felt it when playing FIFA. That is the one constant amongst all of this, but that "feeling" was always passed off as either placebo, network latency or personal emotion. Some of those factors are of course a reality as well. When I’m 1-0 up with two minutes to go, I can literally feel my body tightening up and my decision making with my players becoming more erratic. But with the chemistry evidence laid bare for all to see, it adds further credence to “FIFA Aids” being a very real virus to go with these other, very real human afflictions.
So many puzzle pieces fall in to place as a result of this new chemistry evidence, like why FIFA Seasons feels comparably awesome to control, or why full In Form teams get decimated by Bronze Eredivsie squads and why creating brand new accounts with Day 1 players feels great too. So much of FIFA's unexplained "feelings" and inconsistencies are now suddenly explainable, and its the game which is potentially at fault.
So where does the blame lie?
The reality is that whether EA knew about this, or whether it’s a genuine bug, the net result for FUT gamers is the same. Whichever is true, we’ve still suffered potentially years of wasted packs, points and coins spent on items in Ultimate Team which were no better than the Day 1 counterparts we already owned. Not everyone can afford to spend thousands of pounds on FIFA Points, but what everyone does spend is their time. Which would make this glitch a bitter pill to swallow for everyone who's ever invested their time grinding to buy unknowingly inferior In Form versions.
When faced with these highly charged situations though I always try to take my own emotion out of the mix, because it’s very easy to just type “F**K YOU EA” on Twitter in a fit of rage, but less so to put yourself in their shoes. I've been burnt in the past by making assumptions about FIFA's code, so forgive my caution. But if you’re EA right now, how do you deal with this? After you’ve finished having kittens of course.
If they confirm the Chemistry Glitch to be real, the community will be in open revolt and so will the press. Refund claims will be abundant and Anne Robinson and the Ladbible will be doing overtime. FIFA is box-office, and whenever a giant falls, everyone will be queuing up to stick the boot in. It could be a very grim few weeks indeed.
Then of course we have the all new Frostbite driven FIFA 17 on the horizon, which has so far done a pretty good job of peaking the community’s interest in a number of key areas. But any confirmation with regards to this bug would no doubt have a very real impact on people’s willingness to not only buy FIFA 17, but to re-invest yet again, in Ultimate Team it's crowning mode. It’s a brilliant, and captivating mode in that there’s no doubt, but there’s only so much people's patience and wallets can take.
Compounding the problem is Ultimate Team’s insistence on making us all start from scratch as every annual iteration releases. Which has always been a bone of contention for me. All that time, all that money invested in players and squads is destroyed every year, and we pay £50 for the privilege of doing so. That lack of persistence in items earned between generations would have been high on EA’s list to tackle, but with these new revelations, it makes it almost mandatory for FIFA 17 to do something compelling with the items people already own today.
Will you be willing to go again, knowing what you know?
It’s important to remember though that we haven't had anything official from EA yet in terms of a confirmation, hence me using a lot of words like “potentially” and “possibly” because we don’t actually know for sure what is going on. However, to the guys on Reddit and YouTube who have collaborated on this, I salute you. Not only have you discovered this issue, you’ve also spent the time testing, re-testing and running multiple scenarios across multiple FIFA titles to prove the theory. It’s a truly fantastic piece of community detective work, which may change the face of the game forever.
Developing games and managing large communities like FIFA’s when times are good is a difficult enough job as it is. Leading them in times of crisis, is something else entirely. But its how situations like the current Chemistry Glitch are handled that ultimately determine how good you are at what you do. And EA need to do something, fast.
What we need now is transparency, honesty, and a clear way forward. Ultimate Team's Chemistry system has been shrouded in mystery for far too long, and it's time to lift the lid on FIFA's biggest secret.