A team of 9,000 scouts, or ‘data reviewers’, help form an accurate picture of each of the 18,000 players featured in FIFA 17, the man in charge of this data, Michael Mueller-Moehring, has revealed to ESPN.
The process begins with a bit of guess work, that is “until our people have seen the player in action,” Mueller-Moehring explains.
The team of reviewers features some professional scouts, but the large majority are simply season ticket holders who watch a lot of live football in person. Feedback is then logged through a secure EA Sports website.
“We have many leagues in the game; no stats provider could offer us data for all these leagues, teams and players,” Mueller-Moehring says. “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.”
In addition to technical ability, EA’s Data Reviewers also pass on info relating to each player’s mental makeup which can only be judged by watching them play.
Furthermore, the league in which a player is based will determine an ability ceiling, meaning those in the Championship are unlikely to be able to reach the highs of players in the Premiership, though there are of course some exceptions.
“If Messi were playing in the Irish league, his attributes would drop simply because he’s not on the highest level any more,” Mueller-Moehring explained. “We want to base our ratings on actual performance data.”
Physical attributes have no such ceiling, as is famously the case with Adebayo Akinfenwa, nicknamed The Beast.
“There are fast and strong players in every professional league in the world,” Mueller-Moehring says.
All the player data from reviewers must then be analysed by EA’s 300 data editors to form 35 attribute ratings and an overall rating for each player. The overall rating is created using a formula taking into account key attributes for a given position, but a range of intangible attributes must also be taken into account, as is the case with Thomas Muller, says Mueller-Moehring.
He “isn’t good at anything, really, apart from his positioning,” Mueller-Moehring explained. “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.
“So if you rate Thomas Muller properly, he ends up with a rating that we say doesn’t make sense. It’s too low.”
In the case of Muller and players like him, EA has to boost his overall rating to better reflect his high regard in world football. Likewise, EA can also downgrade a player’s overall rating, but Mueller-Moehring says this has never happened.
Once each player is rated, this is then used to form ratings for each of the game’s 700 teams. The 16 best-rated players for each club are used to create the overall score, even if one of these players isn’t in the real world match day squad – Bastian Schweinsteiger for example.
Source: ESPN FC