EA Sports producer Michael Mueller-Moehring gives some insight into the process of establishing ratings for the 18,000 players that comprise the FIFA 17 roster.
While seasoned players will recognize most facets of the FIFA 17 experience from the previous year's installment, dedicated football fans buy each new edition of the game with the expectation that its player ratings will be up-to-date. Now, EA's Michael Mueller-Moehring has offered up some behind-the-scenes information on how these stats for FIFA 17 are tracked.
To ensure the highest level of realism possible, the EA Sports team relies on watching players on the pitch, rather than pre-existing data sets. "We have many leagues in the game; no stats provider could offer us data for all these leagues, teams and players," Mueller-Moehring told ESPN.
A 9,000 member network of data reviewers gives the studio firsthand information on the strengths and weaknesses of individual players. Some reviewers are professional scouts and coaches, but the majority are apparently season ticket holders who watch particular players week in, week out.
This "eye test" is apparently preferable to a stat-based approach, because it takes into account the wider context of the system each player is a part of at their club, and the competition they're up against. The league each individual plays in has an impact on the top and bottom limits of their particular rating.
Mueller-Moehring illustrates the benefits of the reviewer program by giving the example of passing completion. A player at a club that focuses on possession might have a better completion rate in terms of pure stats, but because of their team's style of play, this might not necessarily indicate that they're a particularly strong passer.
This approach also allows the development team to properly rate players whose intangibles might be overlooked by a more formulaic system. Mueller-Moehring offers up Bayern Munich forward and German international Thomas Muller as an example.
"A case is Thomas Muller, who isn't good at anything, really, apart from his positioning. He always finds the right spot on the pitch, it's amazing. But he's not a great dribbler and he can't really strike the ball properly — his finishing is sometimes really, really off. Shot power is not his strength as well."
Muller receives a high rating in FIFA 17, even though his score might not be so impressive if it was simply based on raw data. By taking into account the insight of its 9,000 data reviewers, EA can produce a recreation of the international football scene that fans will be able to recognize.
FIFA 17 is available now for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and PC.