FIFA fans, fed up with what they felt was a “handicap glitch” affecting their play, have diagnosed and likely uncovered a problem that may have been undermining the game’s “Ultimate Team” mode for years. Which is a big deal, since that mode costs real money.

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Ever since FIFA 09, the game has included a separate game mode (Ultimate Team, or FUT) where players—on top of the money they’ve already spent buying the game—can spend more cash to buy random packs of players that they can use in a special custom team.

If you’re lucky, or spend enough cash, you’ll eventually accrue a team of bonafide superstars, which should give you a competitive advantage. Thing is, users have long suspected that this hasn’t been the case, and that teams who should be kicking ass all over the pitch are instead “sluggish, slow to react and clumsy”.

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Enter RighteousOnix, who looked long and close enough at the problem to make this video:

He’s pinpointed that the issue isn’t with the players themselves, but with their “chemistry” interactions, a way that FIFA tries to simulate team cohesion. His theory is that, because of a breakdown in the way this chemistry is being handled, poor teams are playing better than they should, and good teams are playing worse, with neither shift in abilities ever communicated to the player.

If you play FIFA enough to know the basics, here’s a video by NepentheZ that breaks down exactly how this works and what it means:

This is potentially huge for the FIFA multiplayer scene for two reasons. First, because there’s no way of telling how far back the problem goes, it might have been affecting games as far back as 2008. And secondly, because FIFA players spend millions every year on their Ultimate Teams, there’s the possibility that they’ve essentially been cheated out of performance benefits that they’ve paid real money for.

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I asked EA what was up with the discoveries, and while the company couldn’t confirm them (yet), they did say they’d be looking into it.

Thanks to the FUT community for raising awareness of a potential fitness and chemistry inconsistency in some FUT items. After hearing this, our teams were in over the weekend and continue to thoroughly investigate the information. We will keep you informed with updates from the investigation. Our commitment to a fun, fair and secure experience in FIFA is ongoing, and as a community your feedback helps us achieve that goal. A special thanks for your continuous efforts across all channels.