Why the chemistry glitch isn’t handicapping


In June 2016, RighteousOnix released a YouTube video which demonstrated that chemistry stats bonuses didn’t apply the way they are supposed to get. The video was followed by a 2nd video which added even more wood to the fire. The chemistry glitch was fixed with the roll out of a title update for FIFA 16 on July 12th. In this article, I look into the conclusions of this experiment and discuss the implications it had in relation to the scripting / handicapping debate.

Some background

In the following sections, I will be talking about 2nd+ edition cards. A 2nd+ edition card is any later edition of a player card released throughout the year. The term applies to position changes, informs, TOTY / TOTS cards, transfers and upgrades, whereas a 1st edition or day-1 card is any player card, which was available on the date of release for FUT 16. The fact that a player only has one card in the game does not always imply that this is a 1st edition card. Some players were transferred prior to release, meaning that their actual 1st edition card never was published.

Prior to the discovery of the chemistry glitch, it had been known for some time that 2nd+ edition cards didn’t lose in game fitness even though it appeared as if they did on the team screen. Hence, you could essentially use your 2nd+ edition players match after match without caring about fitness. As it turned out now, 2nd+ edition cards were different in other respects as well.

RighteousOnix’s discovery

The basis of RighteousOnix’ discovery was the observation that only players with a minimum dribbling stat of 86 can do the step over skill move. By checking whether a player can do the skill move, you can check whether his stat is above or below 85.

According to EA, chemistry boosts will increase the stats, meaning that a player born with 85 dribbling, who normally can’t do the skill move, should be able to do the skill move if he receives a chemistry boost on dribbling.

As it turned out, chemistry boosts didn’t work as they were supposed to.

Doumbia transferred from CSKA Moscow to Newcastle during FIFA 16. The two Doumbias have exactly the same stats, and among them 82 dribbling. If you played CSKA-Doumbia on full chemistry with the Sniper chemistry style, he would be able to do the skill move, because his dribbling stat crawled above the threshold via the three chevrons added to his DRI stat. Newcastle-Doumbia, on the other hand, couldn’t do the skill move, even if he had full chemistry and a sniper style attached!

The same applied to all informs and other special cards. 2nd+ edition cards always had their base stats, meaning that if the inform version had >= 86 dribbling as base stat, he could do the skill move like he was supposed to, but if he had 85, even a sniper card and full chemistry wouldn’t make him do the skill move.

The same applied to all informs and other special cards. 2nd+ edition cards always had their base stats, meaning that if the inform version had >= 86 dribbling as base stat, he could do the skill move, but if he had 85, even a sniper card and full chemistry wouldn’t make him do the skill move.


What exactly did the chemistry glitch do?

The most exciting part of RighteousOnix’s revelations was that it allowed us to get a better understanding of how chemistry actually works. People had been making a massive amount of research, testing out all sorts of scenarios. Below, I list the most important findings:

1st edition cards (day 1 cards)
Base level = the 28 in-game stats you can find for each player at FUTWIZ or FUTHEAD.

  • Players with Basic chemistry style, who had below 86 dribbling as base level, wouldn’t get a stat boost for dribbling even at 10 chemistry.
  • Players with Basic chemistry style, who had below 4.9 chemistry, would receive a stat reduction.
  • Players with chemistry styles, which boosts other stats than dribbling, still retained base level for dribbling as long as their chemistry was above  ~4.85.
  • Other chemistry styles could boost the player’s in game stats even when he had below 10 chemistry.
  • The maximum chemistry boost for dribbling was +10 stats. The size of the boost did not depend on the player’s OVR rating, and it was not affected by the opponent’s squad rating.
  • Chemistry styles had no effect in offline matches, meaning that 1st edition players would play according to their base stats.

2nd edition cards (day 2+ cards)

  • No matter what chemistry the player had, he would always have his full base stats, meaning that you could play him in any position and in any squad.
  • Stats couldn’t be moved around by adding chemistry style cards. Players couldn’t exceed their base stats even if you added chem styles, which boosted certain stats.

Did the chemistry glitch make informs inferior?

A question, which has been debated heavily, is whether the chemistry glitch made informs inferior to non-informs.

On one hand, it was a considerable downside that chemistry styles didn’t work for informs. On the other hand, informs had the advantage of having higher base stats.

The thing about chem styles is that they may be used to boost stats, which are particularly relevant to a certain position.

During FIFA 15, I wrote an article for Ultimateteam.co.uk where I examined how various stats affects the performance of a striker. In order of importance and with their relative weight in parentheses, I found pace (.28), dribbling (.24), shooting (.23) and physicality (.12) to be most important. And by important, I mean correlated to the player’s goal scoring capability.

Hence, a day 1 card is advantaged by the ability to add for example a hunter style, which boosts pace and shooting, while an inform is advantaged by having higher base stats on all four stats above.

We unfortunately don’t know what a hunter style does to the player’s stats, but if we assume that it corresponds to a +10 increase in pace and shooting, most 1st and 2nd informs would be inferior to the day 1 edition of the card. As an example, you would need the upgraded version of Higuain’s 2nd inform to get a card which would outperform his day 1-card:

Chemistry glitch comparisons
Chemistry glitch comparisons

The calculations above do depend on the assumption that HUNTER = +10 PACE and +10 SHOOTING. We don’t know whether that is true or not.

Another thing worth stressing is that even though some informs indeed may have been inferior to their day 1 editions, the difference would have been extremely small. In this article, I looked into whether informs were worth the coins. The conclusion was that, if there was a performance difference between informs and regular cards, it was too small to measure. While this on one hand makes it painstakingly clear that informs usually are heavily over priced, it also denounces the claim that the chem glitch gave players, who used informs, an actual disadvantage. There ois absolutely no support for that idea.

Was the chem glitch handicapping and did they put it in on purpose?

Some people have argued that this chem glitch is proof of handicapping. This is in my honest opinion pure nonsense.

The chem glitch did not level the playing field like a handicap. It affected whoever happened to have 2nd+ edition cards in his squad, no matter whether he was the better player, no matter he was leading or trailing and no matter whether he had the better squad or not.

Another noteworthy finding is that chem boosts work in the exact same way to all 1st edition cards, independent of the opponent’s squad rating. In a match between a 85-rated squad consisting purely of 1st edition cards and an 75-rated squad full of 1st edition cards, chem boosts work exactly the same for both squads, and the team supposed to have the better stats will get the better stats.

Hence, the chem glitch didn’t make matches more even. It didn’t do what we would expect a handicap to do.

As for the speculations that EA did this on purpose, then I have a hard time seeing how that possibly could be the case. Again, this is not a handicap. No one benefits from this. Worst case, they may have known without bothering to fix it, but that’s as bad as it gets.

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