Have you ever played a match on FIFA where nothing has gone your way?
Well, there may be more to it than just being unlucky. Some believe more sinister forces could be to blame.
Scripting refers to the notion that a line of game code changes the flow of a match if it becomes too one-sided.
So, if you’re winning 5-0, some gamers claim the game recognises the imbalance and boosts the opposition’s ability whilst simultaneously hampering yours.
A simple search on the FIFA sub-Reddit reveals hundreds of videos alleging that scripting is at large – something EA Sports has denied for years.
Back in 2012, FIFA producer Aaron McHardy sat down with FIFA Soccer blog to answer some questions about scripting – and whether or not it existed.
His answer was a resounding ‘no’.
“This scripting behaviour…I can absolutely say this in not in gameplay… we hate this kind of logic,” he said.
“Some racing games use this ‘rubber banding’ logic to keep races tight but it’s not something that we do.”
Fast forward a few years and EA’s stance on the matter remains the same. Yet the existence of scripting is still a major talking point.
Last year, we spoke to Sam Rivera from EA Vancouver in an attempt to put the record straight.
When asked if such a thing exists, he said: “No. We don’t really have a reason to out that in the game.”
He continued: “Our job is to is to understand the football concepts and put them in the game one by one and in detail. Let me give you an example.
“You ask Ronaldo to take a shot and hit the left corner of the goal every time – he won’t be able to.
“There are many reasons that are going to prevent him from doing that.
“There could be pressure, the ball could be too close to you, it could be on your weak foot… there are many, many reasons so we try to understand those in detail and put them in the game.
“By doing that there’s already going to be dramatic emotional moments in the game because it happens in real life, and it should happen in FIFA.”
One of the most popular conspiracy theories is the ‘2-0 bug‘, which gamers claim caused you to lose a game if you have a 2-0 advantage in FIFA 18.
Rivera was quick to shut this down.
“There would be no reason for us to come up with something,” he said. “I have played many games where I am winning 2-0 and I end up winning 2-0.
“If the ball goes through the hand of a goalkeeper or something else, that will happen because of bugs – that happens all the time.
“The problem is is that it happens by luck – in the moment the ball was crossing the goal line. It’s all a combination of things.”
“When you are really under pressure because it’s the last minute you are going to get nervous and that affects reaction time – so you won’t play as well.”
So, when did scripting first start making headlines?
Fans point to FIFA 06, which was the first in the series to feature a momentum ‘bar’.
Dots next to the team name would indicate how well the team was performing at a given point in time. This was thought to affect player performance and ‘luck’.
After all, if a better player is thrashing another, lesser player, tedium will set in fast for both parties.
A lot of the entertainment in a match is feeling a tangible shift in momentum – knowing that even though you’re 3-0 down you can still come back.
Does is still exist?
Whilst the bar is gone, momentum – it’s alleged – still exists to keep people playing and help deliver these ‘comeback’ moments that happen in real-life.
This is despite EA standing firm on its stance that such a mechanism does not exist.
In FIFA 17, one curious player claimed to find a hidden ‘momentum’ code buried in the game’s files.
“I am no programmer or anything, but out of curiosity I was looking through some of the FIFA 17 game files,” he wrote on Reddit.
“I found the following in the file “Initfs-Win32”:
“The file can be found on PC at Origin Games > Fifa 17 > Update > Patch > Data.”
This was followed by another discovery, with Reddit user u/CatalystFCP revealing a code that’s alleged to show how momentum works.
Again, we must re-iterate that EA’s stance on scripting or the existence of momentum is that it does not exist.
But as pressure mounts and more footage revealing inexplicable goals or glitches finds its way online, EA may face some difficult questions in the coming months.