Why FIFA is inconsistent

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I hear over and over again that FUT is inconsistent. Players that you usually beat, suddenly beat you. And in squad battles, you all of a sudden lose a match on your preferred difficulty level after having won 19 in a row. Why is this? Some people attribute it to scripting, arguing that EA must have some sinister motive to make us fail now and then. Nevertheless there is a bleeding obvious and completely natural explanation. And as in other caes, we need to look towards real football to find it.

Inconsistency is normal

FIFA players often complain about their teams not performing on the same level match after match. But how common is it to deliver that sort of performance in real football?

If you think about it, you may know the answer: It isn’t normal.

In football it’s a perfectly normal thing to win and lose against the same opponent during the same season. Even a highly consistent teams like FC Barcelona only manages to win both matches against the same opponent in 2/3 of the cases.

 Results against same opponent
(2014/15 season)
FC Barcelona
(CL + League)
Espanyol
(League)
Consistent: Won, drew or lost both 16 6
Inconsistent: Won one, lost one 5 5
Inconsistent: Won one, drew one 3 6
Inconsistent: Lost one, drew one 0 2

The question one should ask oneself is: if a team like Barcelona can’t win against Espanyol every time, then why do people expect to win their FUT matches to be different? FIFA is after all supposed to be a football simulation, so perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised by the fact that it … resembles real football.

44% random goals

Let’s take a closer look at what it is that makes football “inconsistent”.

A german professor, Martin Lames, might have an answer. Based on an analysis of 2500 goals, he assessed that 44% of all goals are coincidental to some extent. On top of that, we can add a number of chances that don’t end up in the net due to bad luck.

The 44% wouldn’t create a lot of strange outcomes if we were dealing with matches containing hundreds of goals, but we aren’t. A typical match is decided by a total of 5-10 goal chances. And with 44 % random goals, we inevitably also will get many random results.

An example

Imagine a match between two teams, one of them clearly better than the other.

Team A, the better team, has 7 goal chances, each of them with a 60 % probability of scoring. Team B has 3 chances and a 40 % chance of scoring.

Even under these circumstances, there is a 5% chance that team B will end up winning and a 14% probability of a draw. Yet, surely Team A will win 80% of the time.

The point I want to make here is that all you need to produce “inconsistency” is (a) a low goal ratio and (b) randomness.

And this is of course the exact same thing with FIFA: Even though you are the better player, you will need luck on your side in order to win every time. And on top of that comes the human factor, i.e. mental fatigue, lack of concentration, your mom/wife/kids disturbing you and the likes.

Conclusion

We have seen above that the very same ingredients that inevitably causes real football to be quite random are present in FUT. And yet, people complain that FUT matches are random.

Having discussed this with many scripting believers, I can predict what their excuse for rejecting the above explanation is going to be: FIFA is not comparable to real football, they will argue.

I will however allow myself to ignore that line of reasoning until someone has been able to put forward a reasonable argument for why (a) it should be our default assumption that a football simulation doesn’t work like football and (b) why it makes sense to assume that coincidence doesn’t exist in FUT.

Basically, logic dictates that when you have a game with few goals and a lot of randomness, you get “inconsistency”. I haven’t seen evidence supporting the claim that these factors aren’t present in FUT. As a matter of fact, it is painstakingly clear to be and any other open-minded person that they are!

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