“Everyone knows that scripting exists”

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Scripting proponents like to bring up the fact that they aren’t alone. A brief scan through various forum threads combined with polls on the subject [1][2][3] indeed seems to support the claim that the majority of players believes in scripting. While some scripting believers settle for taking comfort in knowing that there are others like them, others take it even further and argue that the opinion of the majority in itself carries an intrinsic bearing upon whether scripting exists or not:

“Where there is smoke there is fire my friend. There is a reason ‘handicap’ is the #1 most complained about subject in FUT.”
(– Purdomination33 on FIFA247.net)

“8 out 10 (80%) of the sampled players feel the game is manipulated. That seems pretty convincing to me.”
(– Mannyz on ultimateteam.co.uk)

In reality, this line of reasoning is nonsense: The majority is not always right, and in this case, the majority doesn’t exist.

The majority isn’t always right

People are capable of having all sorts of incorrect beliefs, and throughout history as well as in modern everyday life, there are numerous examples of beliefs, which are utterly wrong and yet far more widespread than scripting. Although most of us know this, we still occasionally fall into the pitfalls of making what is known as a ad populum fallacy, i.e. trying to justify our views by their popularity.

No matter how comforting it is to know that others agree with your beliefs, the popularity of your beliefs doesn’t have any bearing on their validity. Logic dictates that since a belief held by an individual can be wrong, then the same belief held by multiple persons obviously will be just as wrong. Hence, arguing that scripting exists, because the majority believes in it, is just as meaningless as arguing that McDonald’s food is healthy because they sold over 99 billion meals.

The majority of Youtubers can also be wrong

Some scripting believers take their ad populum fallacy one step further and spice it up with the fact that a lot of the most popular Youtubers seem to support the idea as well:

“[T]he opinions of the best players (KSI, Bateson87,…and a million others) in the game, who all, almost unanimously agree the game is scripted, gives me a pretty good idea.”
(– Mannyz on ultimateteam.co.uk)

The quote is a good example of yet another classic type of false argument, namely appeal to authority, where people try to justify their opinions by reference to the fact that some believed-to-be authority agrees with them. Mannyz’ claim rests on the unspoken assumption that being a Youtuber or an expert FIFA player grants you authority on whether scripting exists. This is of course nonsense. The fact that you play FIFA and make videos about it does not make you an expert on EA’s business motives or FIFA’s code base, which would be necessary to form an educated opinion about scripting.

Having said that, we definitely should listen to people with true, expert insights into a matter when forming an opinion about it. As an example, the fact that 97 % of climate scientists believe in man made global warming shouldn’t be ignored. However, and this is the important part, we should listen to these guys because they have been proven to possess expert knowledge on climate issues and not because they form a majority.

But still, Youtubers are with all due respect not the FIFA equivalent to climate scientists when it comes to scripting.

Consensus on the outside

The claim that everyone believes in it, therefore it must be right is not only crippled by the logic fallacies mentioned in the previous sections, but indeed also by the fact that it’s premise is false: There is no consensus.

How can I say this, while knowing that polls show that a clear majority says that scripting exists?

Think about this analogy: If you ask people whether the government spends too much money, a huge majority will agree to this. But that obviously doesn’t mean that they agree on how to cut government spending.

The same issue is prevalent here: When you look closer at what people actually say, you will notice that they use and mix the terms scripting, handicapping and momentum to describe a variety of different and often contradictory beliefs. People may agree that the game isn’t fair, and that EA probably are manipulating matches. But as soon as we start looking below the tip of the iceberg, it becomes clear that these broad statements cover a diverse mass of different opinions with regards to how and why this alleged manipulation takes place.

To put some numbers on the level of disagreement, I decided to test whether scripting believers in fact agree to specific statements about scripting.

People may agree that scripting exists, but they disagree about what it is

In this survey, the respondents stated their opinion on the likelihood that the game is manipulated via each of the methods listed below:

  1. Deliberately injuring star players
  2. Deliberately ensuring that certain players are matched against expert players
  3. Imposing graphical errors (letting the ball pass through the foot etc.)
  4. Making the referee act stricter on one team than on the opposing team
  5. Downgrading the stats of star players
  6. Making it harder to win matches in some of the ways described above in order to inflict losing streaks on certain players
  7. Deliberately preventing the player from controlling certain defenders in certain situations
  8. Making players pass and shoot poorly
  9. Letting players score easy 90th minute goals
  10. Letting the AI-controlled team mates make bad decisions

If you look into the data, you would see that a person for example would find statements 2, 3, 6 and 8 likely while rejecting statements 1, 4, 5, 7, 9 and 10.

But to what extent did people believe and reject the same statements?

As it turned out, there wasn’t much common ground to be found.

The biggest consensus was a set of views shared by 5 % of the respondents. This result is consistent with the findings in our even larger 2016 survey, where we included 14 statements and found that only 3 % of the 910 respondents shared the same sat of views across all 14 topics.

This chart displays the results for each of the individual statements:

nonconsensus
Different views about manipulation

The false consensus

While the majority might agree to the broad claim that something called scripting exists, they quite clearly don’t agree to what scripting is. When considering how much this topic has been discussed on Reddit, FUThead forums and elsewhere, it might sound a bit surprising, that people still claim that there is a consensus.

This is however not a new phenomenon. Among psychologists, this phenomenon is known as the false-consensus bias. This is a cognitive bias whereby people tend to overestimate the extent to which their personal beliefs are normal and typical, which in turn may lead to the perception of a consensus that in reality does not exist, a “false consensus”.

In essence, scripting believers like all other people prefer to think that they are part of a majority. Consequentially, they will put more weight on information, which supports this point of view than the opposite.