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Why EA Should Remove The OVR

Players overall ratings (OVR) in FIFA games are the catalyst for an immeasurable number of forum arguments and community disagreements. Suarez should be this; Rooney should be that. OVR’s start so many disputes and are so inherently flawed that there’s a real case in my opinion for them being removed from FIFA all together.

As well as the wasted breath spent arguing whether Messi should be 92 or 93 (which I’ll get to) there’s perhaps a bigger problem with the OVR system which can at times mislead gamers and coax us in to making some poor managerial decisions.

When starting a new Career Mode the first thing most people will do is have a look at their squad, decide who’s going to be sold and then identify any weaknesses that need to be addressed in the transfer market. A pretty standard scenario, but are you really getting the type of player you’re after if you use the player OVR as an indicator?

So, you’ve identified that you need a new left winger to supply your target man and venture in the transfer market. A number of players within your budget are available, one is an 82 OVR winger and the other is a 79 OVR. Be honest, you’re going to pick the 82 OVR player aren’t you? Wrong, because if you cared to delve in to the players individual attributes you’d find out that the 79 OVR guy has a 90 for crossing whereas the 82 OVR guy has just 76 crossing. As deals go, that’s a shocker.

And that’s the major problem with the OVR rating system; it’s only an average of the player’s top attributes, nothing more. However the prominence it’s given in FIFA’s menu design makes it feel like a reliable decision making tool when it really couldn’t be further from that.

I also don’t believe that the OVR promotes the ‘right’ kind of gamer behaviour either because you really shouldn’t be buying a player just because they’re the most expensive or the highest rated. FIFA should encourage you to either get the right man for the right job, or the guy with the right potential to do the job, and for me the arbitrary OVR value fails on all counts.

Sometimes of course the OVR value is correct and the player you’re looking at is the best man for the job but that’s not really the point because acquiring players should be about discovery and the sense of achievement that goes with it. The OVR is essentially a FIFA tour guide, shamelessly pointing out all of the major footballing attractions along the way.

Where the OVR is useful though is in Team Management because once you’ve bought a player and got to know your squad, that quick indicator of player talent and growth is very useful. Not everyone is a football expert after all and for newcomers to FIFA knowing how good players unknown to them are is important. The game needs to be accessible on all fronts but I still feel this could be managed better than the current OVR system.

Then of course we get to the amount of argument and fuss caused by these OVR values. The number of forum threads and FSB comments I’ve seen over the years suggesting that certain players should be moved up by one point or down by another, literally blows my mind. If anyone can actually tell the difference between an 83 and an 84 striker in-game then you’re a better man than I. What I can tell the difference between though is a guy with 90 dribbling and another with 75, which is completely unrelated to the players OVR value. Confusing isn’t it?

Debating player ratings is the ultimate waste of community time and effort on all levels because a player’s ability is entirely subjective. I think Frank Lampard is an erratic, Hollywood passing, chubster but a die-hard Chelsea fan will be in awe of the rotund midfielder’s footballing skills. Just like the real game, FIFA player ratings are all about opinions and everybody has a different one, which is why we’ll never all agree on how good a certain player could or should be.

Solutions

When you select a player in FIFA you’d be much better served by seeing their top five attributes as opposed to the OVR because at least then you get an idea about the type of player you’re looking at, rather than how good the game perceives them to be on a base line level. FIFA is always criticised for its lack of individuality but if any notion of individual player abilities is hidden by an arbitrary OVR how can gamers be expected play using those strengths?

As far as comparing players goes the answer is very simple, bring in the legendary “PES Pentagon” which is currently being utilised in FIFA’s Creation Centre. When you overlay two players’ stats you immediately see where one player is better or worse than the other. It’s incredibly simple but it’s so, so effective. There aren’t any licensing or copyright issues either; the pentagon is a standard mathematical calculation so you wouldn’t get Konami banging on the EA door asking for their pentagon back, as amusing as that would be.

A lot of these suggestions rely completely on an overhaul of the Team Management structure in FIFA which to be honest has now become a must for FIFA 13. I’m going to go in to some more detail on that further down the line once the furore of release has passed us by.

OVR’s cause so much moderation grief and so much wasted community effort that, that alone should prompt action from EA. But when you throw in the confusion and the potential for gamer decisions to be mislead in a mode as important as Career Mode it really does ramp up the importance of dealing with this problem.

It would be an incredibly bold move to rip the OVR values out of FIFA completely especially as it’s so engrained in the franchise history but I have no doubt that it would be the right decision. Perhaps in EA’s eyes the suggestion of removing the OVR completely in one hit is a little gung-ho but I certainly think that it’s prominence needs to be reduced in favour of a more rounded view of player abilities if it isn’t disbanded.

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