What is DDA in gaming and why is it so controversial? FIFA 22, EA & more

Joe Craven
EA Sports logo on FIFA 22 Background
EA Sports

A controversial topic in the FIFA (and gaming) community relates to DDA, what it means, and how it impacts video games. Here, we’re running through everything that’s known about Dynamic Difficulty Adjustment mechanics, their place in FIFA 22, and much more. 

The term DDA may be new to some FIFA fans, but many will have heard it in passing from content creators, Twitter accounts, or even fellow players.

It’s a fairly controversial topic and one that hasn’t received a lot of coverage so, here, we’ll be running through what it means, how it affects video games, and whether it is in FIFA 22.

Lionel Messi with hands in air wearing PSG jersey in FIFA 22
FIFA 22 has seen some discussions about DDA.

What is DDA in gaming and FIFA?

DDA stands for ‘Dynamic Difficulty Adjustment’. The phrase is quite complex, but it simply means a mechanic within a game’s code that is able to adjust certain gameplay aspects to make it more difficult, or easier, for players to carry out certain actions.

In short, a player dominating a match could see DDA make their gameplay less fluid and more prone to error, in order to balance the match they are playing. A player struggling in a game may find their gameplay made more fluid to have the opposite effect.

An EA paper on the subject describes it as a “technique for adaptively changing a game to make it easier or harder.” It is designed to alleviate both frustration and boredom.

On its use in their games, EA say: “We have successfully developed a system that applies this technique in multiple games by Electronic Arts, Inc., and have observed up to 9% improvement in player engagement with a neutral impact on monetization.”

Electronic Arts Red Logo
EA designed the DDA system back in 2016.

Is DDA in FIFA? EA patent & more

The official answer to that question is no. However, EA filed a patent for the mechanic back in 2016, meaning they essentially gained a license to use it in-game.

In spite of the patent, they have consistently denied its implementation in FIFA, despite major and protracted accusations from players. For years now, FIFA players have accused EA of scripting and DDA impacting the game’s fairness and balance.

They actually revealed the DDA code in a March 2021 court case to debunk accusations of scripting as a mechanic in FIFA.

Their comments backed up their successful defence, saying: “There is no DDA or scripting in Ultimate Team modes… Ensuring play is fair is critical to all of us at EA. We’ve tried to be as clear as possible that this commitment applies to us just as much as it does to our players.”

FIFA 22 Trent Alexander Arnold passing ball
EA Sports
FIFA 22 has no DDA or scripting mechanics, according to EA.

Needless to say, some players remain unconvinced, and still attribute frustrating moments in-game to DDA or scripting. It’s important to reiterate though, that there is no proof of it beyond irritating anecdotes from players.

With FIFA 23 believed to in development and chalked for a late 2022 release, we expect this debate to rage on.