Are glitches holding back FIFA’s potential in esports?

Every year we get a new FIFA, and every year it's hyped up and sells well. But with each iteration comes an unwelcome mix of glitches - some minor, some major.

Iain Harris asks: With FIFA developing well as an esport over the past few years, how are these glitches affecting competitive play?

EA Sports' FIFA franchise has an unfortunate history of glitches and bugs that it can’t shake, from visual giggles such as players with massive hands in FIFA 14 to the game's rage-inducing ‘kick off glitch’ that allowed players a very high chance of scoring from kick off.

Don’t worry though; the goalkeeper’s giant hands didn’t afford him any advantage. Other bugs included giant goalkeepers in FIFA 13, strange levitating players in '12, invisible teams in '11 and the kick-off glitch reemerging in '16, '17 and '18 – although not as effective.

Perhaps worse is that patching fixes for these problems has only become common for EA in FIFA 17.

Every addition of FIFA seems to bring about a new bug or glitch that goes beyond the odd on-screen anomaly, and with the rise of esports in FIFA, the ramifications of these bugs are higher than ever.

A FIFA coin exploit recently gained attention online which involved using bronze-rated players to beat the AI on harder difficulty, in order to maximise rewards.

FIFA 18 released two months ago with a new Ultimate Team mode called Squad Battles, this allowed players to take on AI-controlled teams for in-game currency and points that determine your place on a global leader board.

 

"FIFA has an unfortunate history of glitches and bugs, from visual giggles such as players with massive hands in FIFA 14 to the game's rage-inducing ‘kick off glitch’ that allowed players a very high chance of scoring from kick off."

 

The better your place, the better the rewards, and with the competitive setting it meant that running the best set-up was ideal. A meta, or what is most effective, will always be in a competitive game but players argued that this was closer to an exploit.

EA responded in swift fashion with a patch days ago that changed the AI’s behaviour in hopes of fixing the exploit.

Despite the sharp fix though, a more troubling glitch is now gaining attention that allows players to leave competitive games without earning a loss on their record, and even in some cases rewarding a loss to the other player.

There was actually a similar glitch found back in FIFA 2017 by YouTuber Craig "Nepenthez" Douglas (yes, the guy who pleaded guilty to FIFA coin gambling) that involved pausing before kick-off and quitting the game to save defeat from someone you expected to be leathered by, although it was patched by EA fairly quickly.

The most recent glitch is being used in the FUT Champions Weekend League, which is also where people are battling it out this month to qualify for the recently announced FIFA eWorld Cup qualifying tournament in January 2018.

Various pros are understandably upset as there is a lot riding on the Weekend Leagues this month.

Former Hashtag United pro Tassal "Tass" Rushan stated on Twitter that qualification should be held off until everything was fixed, and further remarked in a video that it's likely some players in the current top 64 qualification spots had abused the exploit.

It isn’t entirely clear how players are doing the exploit right now, as players and content creators within the community are trying to strike the balance between raising the issue without spreading the information on how to pull off the glitch.

 

"So many cheaters in FUT Champs. Sad to see. Hopefully the glitches will be patched. If for whatever reason they are not, Weekend League should be cancelled."
Tassal "Tass" Rushan

 

Although, one content creator, whose video and name won’t be mentioned, found you could manipulate your connection setting to make sure your connection was not strong enough to connect to opponents.

Other FIFA pros have also been affected by the exploits; Florian "Cody" Müller shared clips of the glitch happening to him.

He further explained that he should have been on 77 wins for the month, but was instead on 72, meaning his hopes for qualifying were over.

Fellow pro Kai “deto” Wollin further echoed Tass’ sentiments that qualification needed to be moved forward a month so the competition could be clean.

Luckily for FIFA’s pro scene, EA has become largely committed to ensuring it continues to grow, adapting the popular Ultimate Team function around the competitive nature of esports while committing to patching the game and banning offenders to ensure a good ecosystem.

The game also featured the kits of popular Sunday league and esports team Hash Tag United as an option in Ultimate Team.

Despite the goodwill and attitude of continued improvement, though, EA faces a real task to quickly stamp out the glitches and cheats that threaten to undermine its eWorld Cup.

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