FIFA 17 might not have had the warmest of critical receptions but that rarely dampens the series’ commercial success.

This year appears to be no different what with retailers selling copies early. One hot topic of discussion around EA Sports’ footie franchise is how player ratings are calculated. How does the company judge and rank players, giving them a number to represent their skills, abilities, and intelligence among other attributes?

 

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According to EA Sports producer Michael Mueller-Moehring it begins with some guesswork.

“We guess a little bit … until our people have seen the player in action,” Mueller-Moehring said to ESPN.

This is followed by 9,000 data reviewers – a group consisting of professional scouts, coaches, and season ticket holders, chiming in. They watch matches in person for most part and provide feedback on players through a secure website.

It’s a subjective take on each player, of which 18,000 are in action. The reason for this approach is because the statistics EA needs doesn’t exist.

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“We have many leagues in the game; no stats provider could offer us data for all these leagues, teams and players,” Mueller-Moehring said. “This is also the reason why we use this online database, because it’s not possible to buy this data some way — it just doesn’t exist.”

Furthermore, the numbers tell only half the story. Mueller-Moehring stresses on the context of how these numbers come to be.

“The stats are, in most cases, not taking into account very specific circumstances,” he says. “When you look at passing completion, if you play for Bayern Munich or if you play for Manchester City or if you play for Pep Guardiola, if your system is based on possession, you will have more successful passes than other players, but this doesn’t necessarily make you a better passer.

“And when you look at attributes like trapping and ball control, there is data, but the data never gives you the specific situations. Same for tackling.”

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Also of importance is the league a player is in.

“If Messi were playing in the Irish league, his attributes would drop simply because he’s not on the highest level anymore,” he said. “We want to base our ratings on actual performance data.”

FIFA 17 is out officially in India on September 29, although it’s been readily available for the last couple of days at brick and mortar stores across the country via parallel imports.



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