FIFA Scripting, Handicapping and Momentum – Why It Doesn’t Exist

FIFA Scripting, Handicapping and Momentum – Why It Doesn't Exist


We are extremely proud to announce that we’ve teamed up with crlarsen, owner of, a FIFA Ultimate Team website dedicated to people who prefer knowing over believing. There are no many people writing as well about FIFA as he does. This is a great addition to our team, that will help us to improve the quality texts of our website. Enjoy this amazing article where he explains why FIFA scripting, handicapping and momentum don’t exist.


FIFA Scripting, Handicapping and Momentum


No other topic has stirred as much controversy in the FIFA community as scripting aka handicapping aka momentum. Despite the lack of evidence supporting it, the assertion that EA deliberately manipulates matches for whatever reason has become widely accepted as fact.

It’s not a secret that I have been a skeptic from the start, and despite my ongoing attempts to challenge my own views, my further investigations haven’t made me change my mind. In the following sections, I would like to elaborate on what makes me so certain that scripting, handicapping and momentum are myths.


There are Better Explanations

Let’s be very clear about something: I do not deny that FIFA contains loads of annoyances. Whether it’s 90th minute equalizers, losing- and even relegation streaks, inconvenient graphics glitches and the likes, I have seen them all. So, don’t waste your time posting video evidence confirming these things as fact.

But the mere fact that these things happen doesn’t lead to the conclusion that they happen because EA is manipulating matches deliberately. This ought to be common sense.

Before we even start thinking about foul play as a possible cause, we effectively need to rule out other possibilities. And the fact is that we can’t. On contrary, all the phenomena I just mentioned have perfectly viable, natural explanations. So, why even consider foul play?


The Opponent

A recurring element in many FIFA scripting posts around the internet is a somewhat optimistic assessment of one’s own skills combined with a lack of recognition of the opponent’s abilities.

As an example, take a look at this survey where people were asked to assess their own skill level relative to others taking the same survey. 70 % thought they were above average. This illustrates that people just aren’t realistic about their own capabilities relative to their opponents.

Having said that, it’s an undeniable fact that you sometimes lose despite being the better player. But here is the thing about football: This game isn’t about being better overall, having more possession or more shots. It’s about being better in those few situations that decide the match. You may beat a guy 9 times out of 10 and still lose the 10th match due to a brief lack of concentration. Tough luck, but that’s football and I see no reason to assume that this would be different in a football simulation like FIFA.

The lack of recognition of the opponent’s abilities is equally prevalent in matches where the opponent is the better player. When you follow the FIFA scripting debate, you will come across those posts where people complain about their players feeling clumsy, slow and sluggish when passing and shooting. Purportedly, the only, possible explanation to these feelings is – scripting, because as we all know, the opponent can’t make your players pas poorly etc.

Or so they say, because let’s be very clear here: The mere fact that your players feel sluggish or slow does not necessarily imply that they were slower or more sluggish than they used to.

The opponent obviously can’t make your players slower, clumsier or more sluggish per se, but he can make them feel as if they were.

Take as an example passing: It’s an inherent part of my game plan to attack the opponent’s ability to pass in the midfield. I believe that many other skilled players have worked that out as well. So, what I am telling you here is that yes, the opponent can definitely affect your ability to make successful passes. And if he is sufficiently better than you, it will feel exactly as if your players suddenly have forgotten how to pass.

So, when someone claims that his players felt worse, it indicates that they perhaps just haven’t realized how much damage a skilled opponent can do to your own game plan.


EA Doesn’t Have a Motive

The fact that there are better explanations around is not the only reason to reject the entire notion of FIFA scripting.

Another good reason is that there isn’t a credible motive. Companies do not just waste money bothering their paying customers for fun. A company like EA would never ever invest money into developing a concept like scripting unless there was a very certain business case at the end of the rainbow.

FIFA scripting believers have speculated about possible links between manipulation and EA making more money. The perhaps most popular belief is that EA manipulates matches in order to level the playing field and thereby make the game more attractive to bad players.

While it’s unquestionable that EA wants to create a multiplayer gaming experience where both players stand a chance of winning and losing, it’s unlikely that they would want to manipulate matches in order to achieve that goal.

First and foremost, think about all the people this would bother. Cheating your players like this is literally one of the most effective efforts to kill your own business, and game designers have known this for ages.

Second, EA definitely wants to give all players a fair chance in every match, but there are better ways than scripting to obtain that goal. We know that FUT seasons uses a concept known as Elo matchmaking. Elo matchmaking means that you are matched against opponents of similar skill. In other words, bad players don’t get matched against expert opponents. So, Elo matchmaking definitely serves the purpose of creating a level playing field, thereby removing the need to intervene artificially.

Third, despite EA’s aspirations, FUT matches aren’t particularly even. It’s a hard fact that ties and narrow wins are rare in FUT compared to real football. As a matter of fact, it can be established with certainty that FUT doesn’t have an unnatural surplus of 1-goal wins or draws given it’s overall goal ratio. In other words, we can rule out that matches are made more even than they normally would be.

With that, we can cross the “make matches even” motive from the list of possible motives. And the question is what other viable motives there are. I personally can’t think of any.


Why Keep it a Secret if it was True?

Let’s ignore that we already know that absolutely nothing supports the assertion that EA levels the playing field artificially in online FUT. Instead, let’s look at another title where EA does level the playing field artificially, namely Battlefield 1.

BF1 uses a concept sometimes known as adaptive difficulty in online multiplayer game modes. If either side is losing, they will be reinforced with a so-called behemoth to balance things out.

What’s notable about behemoths is that they are introduced completely openly and hence also with the consent of the involved players. Although people discuss when and how behemoths should be introduced, no one disputes the fairness of the concept as such.

Perhaps surprising, FIFA does make use of adaptive difficulty in certain offline modes. And, just like in BF1, it’s communicated openly:

FIFA Scripting, Handicapping and Momentum – Why It Doesn't Exist

This raises a question: If adaptive difficulty is present in FUT, then how come that EA are denying it? I simply don’t see a motive to keep this a secret in FUT but not in BF1 or for that matter in offline FIFA.


Even the Believers are Divided

A popular argument among FIFA scripting believers is that the majority believes in scripting, and therefore it must be true. This argument is logically flawed and it rests on a false premise.

The majority does not share the same view with regards to scripting. When you follow the debate closely, you will notice that FIFA scripting isn’t one, uniform belief but rather a broad range of ideas with little else in common than the belief in foul play. In fact, surveys have confirmed that scripting believers have very different and often contradictive ideas about what is going on. The fact that we refer to “it” with different terms like scripting, momentum and handicapping is a direct consequence of the division among the believers.

Apart from the fact that the majority doesn’t degree at any deeper level of substance, I find it necessary to state that there are many examples of beliefs, which not only are popular but also completely wrong.


Concluding Remarks

Let’s be scientific here for a moment. No evidence suggests that FIFA scripting exists, and there is no credible motive for EA to put it in or to keep it a secret if they did put it in. At the same time, all the phenomena usually associated with scripting have other explanations.

So, why the heck do people believe in this? It makes no sense.



  1. We believe it exists because it gives us a comfortable alternative reality rather than confront that we’re not as good at FIFA as we think.

  2. Try getting ahead in a FUT Champions match 2-0 within 10 mins then see what happens to your team. No reason? They want you to open more packs, that’s why!

      • FIFA15 research doesn’t have to say anything about FIFA17 does it?
        I consider myself as a reasonable player 24 wins on average in weekend league. This weekend I played a good opponent and conceded 2 goals in the 6th and 9th minute. All of a sudden my team was superb and in the 36th minute the score was 5-2 and the opponent disconnected. Nothing he could do about it.

        I have a decent team for quite some while now. After 20-30 good feeling matches my players stop making runs, and turn to shit.
        Whenever I open packs and change teams the good feeling returns. This is exactly how FIFA “encourages” people to open packs. Whenever you’ve found your perfect team, EA destroys it to keep you motivated in altering your team(via purchases). Otherwise nobody would buy FIFA points anymore after 3 months.

        • People have been complaining about scripting since FIFA 11, so chances are that results based on FIFA 16 data are valid to all other FIFAs. That is, unless you want to take the unusual stand that scripting wasn’t invented until after FIFA 16…

          So, let’s face the reality here: If EA indeed did make matches more even, there is no way in hell they could hide this in the results. If there was an equalizing feature, we would see more narrow wins and draws. We can reject both those predictions. It doesn’t happen, and therefore we can rule out that you lose when leading by 2 because EA is trying to make matches even.

          What really goes on here is much more trivial:

          (1) it’s relatively easy to score in FIFA. Goals happen ~10 times more frequently than irl.
          (2) therefore, we can concude that goals happen rather randomly.
          (3) easy come, easy go. When matched against an evenly skilled opponent, you may score 2 easy goals and concede a couple of easy goals.

          Besides, you still haven’t provided an explanation to why intervening at specifically 2-0 would make people buy more packs. Why not just make them lose? Which again makes no sense, as someone will lose no matter what…

  3. The fact that so many people experiencing “unfair” play and so many people really think it’s the game that is influencing a match makes a point for itself.

    No other game i have ever played (and i’m a gamer from the first hour) has ever given me the feeling of being cheated out of a victory more then FIFA 17

    True or not, the fact is that the game “feels” rigged at certain times, intended or not it is a problem that should be addressed.

    The fact is that EA is trying to make as much money as possible (only look at the pathetic drop rate on packs) and your point that it is unlikely that they achieve that by cheating players brings me to the next fact.

    The fact that EA doesn’t release ANYTHING about there game mechanics.
    And this is the biggest problem.
    If they would be transparent about there game mechanics, they could easily give the majority of players some peace of mind.

    If you look at Blizzard. With Overwatch they communicate openly on the forums with their players exchanging ideas, letting player testplay patches and comment on them…

    EA is just sitting in their monopoly castle only opening the gates for the money trucks that keep coming in.

  4. 70% of respondents thinking they are above average…hate to be a nerd about sampling, but I suspect that the people mostly likely to be filling out the survey are the most hardcore fans of the game, which means you likely have selection bias in your methodology, which means that, in fact 70% (or more) of the survey respondents MIGHT be above average players. Just a thought.

    I, on the other hand, am terrible (at FIFA, not statistical methods).

    • It’s very plausible that the people responding indeed are better than average when compared to the entire population of FIFA players. But my point is a bit more subtle: I’m not trying to measure how good they really are but rather how optimistic they are about their own skill level relative to an unknown group.

      The result is consistent with previous studies of a cognitive bias known as optimism bias, whereby people tend to believe that they are better off than they evidently are. As an example, I have seen surveys where newly married couples where asked to assess their divorce risk while knowing that the country average was 50 %. In those cases, the respondents still assessed their own risk as low as 10 %.

  5. The scripting has an official name, it is called “adaptive difficulty” by EA. It exists within one game, but it also exists over a series of games. there are different triggers. E.g.: if you win by a large margin you’ll be penalized.

    You can spot it in single player and online. In single player it is quite easy to prove. Playing on legendary you’ll have one game 4 tackles and the next one 25.
    In online mode it is more difficult to prove, because you play against different opponents, but it is obvious it exists. It’s same pattern.

    the guy with the facts site is an armchair philosopher. he does statistics, but he ignores the common sense. he can also prove that water in fluid state doesn’t exists, he can demonstrate it to you. if you contradict him he’ll say “fluid water is there but it doesn’t exist”. Conspiracy in a nutshell.

    • Please note that I already addressed those points of view in the article. You are essentially repeating claims that already have been dismantled.

  6. hahaha okeyyyy!!! 24 shots to the target, 80% of shoots from 1v1 situation. 58% ball controll and gues what??? im loosing 2-1 vs person who made in a whole game 2 shots to the targer from 3 posible. great right? tell me about scripting…

  7. Worst Fifauteam article ever. It’s blatantly obvious when you play there are huge ARTIFICIAL swings in play. The losing team gains and advantage. One goal leads are better than two goal leads. So disappointing in Fifauteam.

    • Hi. Usually, it is the author who replies to the comments of his article, but this time I will replace him.
      First of all, thank you for your preference. If this is our worst article, then it means that we are working extremely well. It is good to know.
      In our website, we all have the right to have different opinions. You may disagree with the author but you can’t deny that he is using good arguments. If you have better arguments than ‘it exist because we all know it’, we will be glad to publish.

    • so one goal leads are better than 2? so if scripting does exist the when the score hits 2-1 then what? It’s a 1 goal lead. I won many games from 2-0 up by 4 or 5 and i’ve lost my fair share 3-2. scripting? No, bad play from me, good play from oppo? Yes.

  8. I just have one great and nice answer for each question or topic. The person needs to be very innocent or beginner to believe in what is wrote here.
    I really expected to find something here that could make some sense, or something new, but we found always the same words from who believes and from who doesn’t believe.
    Nothing new. What ea earns on this cheat building system is clear for everyone.

    • Let’s hear what your great answers are.

      (I wouldn’t call myself a beginner. I believe I was XP lvl 80+ the last time I checked…)

  9. While I agree that sometimes you can have more shots on target and lose because you made worse shots. But how do you explain that even the most of elementary of shots often go completely off-target and other times you always hit on target?

    In real life it’s a rarity that a team has 1-2 shots on target and defeats a team that has 20 shots on target.

    If this was purely down to ability how do you also explain that sometimes you would go on massive winning streaks. Yesterday I won 7 games in a row with Dortmund and the day before yesterday I also won 7 games in a row with Zenit in seasons online. I almost could not lose matches. I become ranked 1st in the leaderboards on PC Weekly and Monthly. After 2500+ matches online over a years of playing I finally won Division 1 title day before yesterday something I could not achieve all year long!

    Now yesterday a miracle happened. I won Division 1, 2 consecutive times in a row on the same day!!! How the hell is that possible when all year I kept getting relegated to Division 3 and climb up to Division 2, 3, 1, 2, 1 and suddenly now I was dominating? Strange right?

    And today completely the opposite. I am losing almost all my matches. I cannot dominate. I check their profile stats. Sometimes I thrash stronger opponents yet lose to weaker ones. It feels like it’s programmed; “Hey don’t be too cocky of yourself, I am going to make you lose now”!

    I’ve been playing FIFA since FIFA 98 World Cup on PC. FIFA 99, 2000, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2017.
    5 years I took a break from FIFA 12 because of handicapping, momentum scripting. To tell you frankly it was even worse in FIFA 12… Played NBA 2K instead and never witnessed crap like this there. All these years before that there has never been talks about scripting but suddenly in recent years this has become a topic! Coincidence?

    If you think quick goals one after another. Or going from 2-0 up/down and it’s even stevens like the commentator says. Or 45th, 53 min, 90th minute goals that happen almost every single match. If you think that’s not handicapping then you must be paid by EA to write such article!

  10. Hmm… I have been play fifa since 2000 and got into online play around 2012 playing pro clubs. I have played 1,000’s of games and some games I feel like my team is controlled from the first whistle my team’s players move like they are in quick sand. The opponents A.I. plays at a legendary level and they score the cheapest of goals. While my team’s A.I. play on semi pro dribbling in a straight line right into a defender every time they touch the ball. We are instantly closed down by the opponents A.I. while they can just run right past ours like cones. Honestly I’d be happy if the game was just even as far as A.I. and ref’s go if your not good enough to play in division the game shouldn’t help keep you there.

  11. In case you were wondering my player is a 94 Cam without cheating and so are my 3 buddies one of them being a 93 we have won over 500 matches and 52 cups in fifa 17 that number would be higher if not for scripting I.E. 45th and 90th min goals and ridiculous opponent A.I. Not to mention that if I’m 5’11 with the speed and acceleration perks on I shouldn’t be outpaced by a 6’6 player ever!!!