The topic of player ratings in FIFA is always a very hot one around launch. This year, EA decided to reveal a little bit of how they arrive at these ratings.
Mueller-Moehring explains how he generates and verifies around 5.4 million data points, based on the 700 clubs and 18,000 players FIFA 17 has. Starting off with perhaps the most interesting question, how does he rate an unknown player who get picked up by a known team last minute?
It starts with guesswork, before a network of over 9000 members reviews the player’s abilities, watch him play, and help assign him various ratings. EA calls them data reviewers, and they’re made up of coaches, professional scouts, and a lot of season ticket holders.
Once this group submits opinions on this or that player, their feedback is then received through a secure EA Sports website. This data is then handled by 300 editors, which arrange it into 300 fields and 35 attribute categories. EA uses this subjective feedback in conjunction with its own stats (scoured from other agencies) to determine ratings.
Mueller-Moehring said that you can’t rely on these stats a 100 percent, because even if they’re comprehensive, they don’t always tell the whole story. “The stats are, in most cases, not taking into account very specific circumstances,” he said.
“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.”
There’s another, equally interesting bit of info to take into account: the league the player plays for determines the ceiling and floor of his abilities. “If Messi were playing in the Irish league, his attributes would drop simply because he’s not on the highest level anymore,” Mueller-Moehring explained.
All that data is then put into a formula, which spits out the rating we see in game. However, some players just don’t work well with this formula, meaning they end up getting rated much lower than their real-world performance would indicate.
Mueller-Moehring gives the example of Thomas Muller, who isn’t particularly good at any one thing, according to him. “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,” he went on.
“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 that case, EA does indeed bump up a player’s rating, though the opposite has yet to happen.
The rest of the interview is a fascinating read. Well worth your time if you’re even the least bit curious how players land their in-game ratings.