It’s the stuff of friendship-breaking legend (and more often than not, makes for a good Twitter laugh for those that follow football’s best), but the way EA has rated its in-game player stats in its FIFA games till now has often been cause for some serious debate.
With the official launch of FIFA 17, EA is now trying to clear up exactly how each player’s personal stats are figured out. Speaking to ESPN, Michael Mueller-Moehring ( Head producer for EA Sports’ database group), revealed how the systems handle the stats associated with the game’s seemingly endless amount of players.
And, Just what you’d expect to happen with 18,000 players over 700 clubs, some amount of guesswork comes into play. Though the top level players like Ronaldo and Messi remain under constant scrutiny, more obscure players from the lower leagues are generally harder to judge.
There’s always a player from the second division in Switzerland who gets bought on transfer deadline day, and all you know about this player is his name, date of birth and his position — and his position may be as precise as, ‘Oh, he’s a midfielder. And this player has to go into the game.
In effect, most obscure players will start at a base level that is defined by their league, which is, in turn, molded based on known performances. After this point, EA sends out a massive army of 9,000 data reviewers (some professional scouts, though most are just season ticket holders who attend games regularly) who then refine the given stats using the EA Sports feedback website.
So all in, there are a total of 5.4 million data points which are meticulously cross-referenced to land on each player’s exact stats. It’s a system that requires a certain amount of wiggle room too – Mueller-Moehring uses the example of Manchester City (A team that plays with possession in mind) skewing the pass completion rate of its players, and potentially unfairly raising each player’s individual passing attributes if their team play style isn’t taken into account.
And then there are individual cases which further prove the main exception to the rule. Mueller-Moehring singles out Thomas Muller, “who isn’t good at anything” apart from his positioning (That is just harsh). Yet he still successfully kicks in plenty of goals, despite his poor on-the-ball technique and shot power in the real world. In these particular cases, certain attributes of Muller are artificially, subjectively tweaked, just so his in-game performance is more akin to his real-world hit rate.
For any real FIFA fan out there, the complete ESPN piece makes for an intriguing read – and may even provide you with some ammo if you find yourself on the wrong side of a losing streak online against mates.