Since its birth, the FIFA franchise had taken the gaming market by storm. From the early days of FIFA ’96, users were able to recreate the magic of football in their living rooms and haven’t looked back since. The game has of course gone through a series of developments and changes, creating innovative, fresh ideas that have left their rivals in their smoke. In order to maintain superiority, EA will no doubt introduce new elements into the game to keep users on their toes, creating the illusion of unpredictability in their series.
One system that has remained relatively unchanged is the player rating system. Users are presented with an overall player rating score out of 100, which is based on a complex computation of all characteristics a player inherits. This leads to the common misconception that the higher the overall score, the better the player. Needless to say, this isn’t entirely true. Put this into practice. You’re in Manager Mode, looking for that pacey, agile left winger with a certain flare, the last remaining piece to the puzzle to complete your team. Transfer window has just opened, and you want a list of the best left-wingers on the game. Based on the overall ratings, the perfect player for the role you’re looking for may not even be in the first couple of search result pages. Why? Well, the overall rating takes into consideration everything, from heading, to composure, to jumping, even goalkeeping. Now, who needs a winger that can jump? Would this lack of ability necessarily deter you from signing a potential explosive player with pace? What about a Striker who is a clinical finisher, but can’t tackle to save his life. This would bump down his overall rating, but again, who needs a Striker who can tackle when he’s quick, agile with a bag full of tricks?
Users of the game are often blinded by the overall rating system. It’s naive to think we all scout like this. Those that do spend the time to decipher the relevant attributes would often say that an overall rating system is useless, and often ignored. We have the option to search for up to two key attributes we want in a player at a time. Clearly, someone at EA believes users are beginning to move away from the face value player ratings.
Other points to consider are the methods to calculate such ratings. The guys behind the FIFA franchise say that the ratings are based on seasonal performance statistics, which are validated from hundreds of Data Editors and Reviewers. However, the validation roles would, of course, be very subjective. How many times have you debated who should line-up for your real life team? How often do you argue so-and-so should be given more playing time? We all believe we’re managers deep down. In the context of the game, how does one even measure ‘creativity’? Everyone has his or her own opinions on who is, and who isn’t a decent footballer. This translates into the game. There are undoubtedly countless players who have been awarded certain ratings on this season’s edition of FIFA that you have questioned. You favourite player may be under-rated, or adversely a player who is mediocre at best in your eyes may develop into a footballing genius.
Another fundamental flaw of the player rating system is FIFA’s inability to make sensible judgement on player development. Before I proceed with this point, I will give the developers the benefit of the doubt on this one, as it’s impossible to accurately forecast the future of footballing talent. But, it’s frustrating to see Scott Dann of Blackburn Rovers captaining Barcelona in 2016, or Josh McEachran giving Lionel Messi a run for his money as World footballer of the year in the next few years. It’s completely implausible. How many ‘Wonderkids’ in FIFA ’05 are playing on the big stage in the real football world of 2012? Anyone remember Freddy Adu, tipped to be the next Maradona? He now plays his trade at Philadelphia Union, hardly the pinnacle of the footballing world. Ok, they have created this new feature that alters ratings based on real life performances and you can always check for squad updates, but this still doesn’t resolve the underlining issues regarding projected qualities.
The only time this rating system has come to my aid is when playing with a team full of unknowns. We’ve all been in that position when you’re with a mate, you both agree to randomly select a team and he gets Barcelona whilst you get Fredrikstad FK from the Norwegian Tippeligaen League. Only then could this serve a purpose, as you select the ‘best’ starting eleven based on the overall ratings, in hope that there is a gem in the team (never happens). Regardless, in the interest of fun, you just want to get on with the game. No one wants to sit and go through all the attributes from all players (deep down, you already know you’re playing for penalties and are preparing to park the bus). This is the only time I personally use this FIFA overall rating system.
It would take a brave man at EA to authorise the abandonment of the FIFA player rating system. How many users would favor the analysis of individual statistics as opposed to the current overall player ratings. In reality, very few. But it would be interesting to see. Take a Football Manager approach. Scrap the overalls and let players make their own judgements, based on individual statistics, as to who is and who isn’t the final piece to their jigsaw.
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This article was first posted on December 25, 2012