EA on FIFA 17 stats: "If Messi were playing in the Irish league, his attributes would drop”

With FIFA 17 out now in the North America and tomorrow across the globe, EA has shared some genuinely fascinating information on how attributes for the game as are decided – including the admission that Lionel Messi’s abilities would be reduced if he joined a lesser league than Spain’s top flight.

"If Messi were playing in the Irish league, his attributes would drop simply because he's not on the highest level anymore," database producer Michael Mueller-Moehring admits to ESPN FC. "We want to base our ratings on actual performance data.” 

Attributes cover 300 data fields and 35 attribute categories, meaning the database team’s biggest challenge, as suspected, is when an unknown player is bought by a side represented in the game late in a transfer window. He immediately has to be added to FIFA – even if the database guys and girls know exactly zero about them.

"There's always a player from the second division in Switzerland who gets bought on transfer deadline day," says Mueller-Moehring, "and all you know about this player is his name, date of birth and his position - and his position may be as precise as, 'Oh, he's a midfielder.’ "And this player has to go into the game.” 

Mueller-Moehring admits EA has to “guess a little bit” until its network of scouts has seen the player in action. That network runs to 9,000 season-ticket holders across the world, who feed back information to 300 data editors, helmed by the German who’s been with EA since 2004, and moved to Vancouver full-time in 2005. 

For more insights, check out ESPN's excellent feature.

FIFA 17 is out now in North America, and September 29 in Europe.

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Ben Wilson

I'm GamesRadar's sports editor, and obsessed with NFL, WWE, MLB, AEW, and occasionally things that don't have a three-letter acronym – such as Chvrches, Bill Bryson, and Streets Of Rage 4. (All the Streets Of Rage games, actually.) Even after three decades I still have a soft spot for Euro Boss on the Amstrad CPC 464+.