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FIFA 14 Interview

FIFA 14 Interview

Fifa 14 Interview: ‘6,000 Scouts and Journalists Create Player Stats’

We’re not well.

When we’re not sneaking a cheeky game of Fifa 14 in on our break we’re starving ourselves at lunch to get one more game in.

When we go home we’re fiddling with our Ultimate Team to try and become the best in the world while the bailiffs remove the fish tank and pull the underlay from the floor.

Truth is we’re the same as millions of gamers across the world. We’re hopelessly addicted to Fifa 14 and it’s affecting our health.

To try and find a cure we booked ourselves in to meet the game’s producer, Santiago Jaramillo, who’s currently working on the Xbox One and PS4 versions.

The diagnosis doesn’t look too good for us over the next few years. Fifa’s set to get better and better.

“With the next generation of consoles we are able to do things we've wanted to do for years, but technical limitations prevented us from doing on Xbox 360/PS3,” Jaramillo explains.

“We are introducing a new engine called IGNITE for Xbox One and PS4 which allows us to improve all areas of our game in a way we couldn't do before. FIFA 14 will push the current boundaries of realism and connectivity.

“We will provide the most stunning environments we've ever had, the most fun, fluid and realistic gameplay, more powerful AI, better physics and player movement, and lots of modes to give context and meaning to the FIFA experience.”

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We’re not the only ones suffering. Fifa 14 managed to keep Grand Theft Auto V off the top spot in the UK Software Charts for two weeks at the start of October. A phenomenal feat in itself.

“It always very satisfying when fans enjoy playing our game. We feel like this is the best football game we have ever made on the current generation of consoles.

“There are some fantastic features in FIFA 14 and the response from our fans has been very positive.”

The last time we were battling such a serious illness (afflictions included heavy bouts of insomnia and our girlfriends leaving us) was when the last instalment of Football Manager came out.

Sports Interactive boasts a huge scouting network with the Football Manager team partnering with a number of top-flight clubs in the professional game.

We want to know how Fifa spreads its infection. Does the EA operation have a similar network for identifying and evaluating players and stats used in its games?

“We have a network of over 6,000 talent scouts based in countries all around the world who are responsible for evaluating player and team performances,” Santiago tells us.

“Our scouts range from journalists to professional sports people to league executives to community members who run club websites. Most of our talent scouts specialize in particular leagues or clubs.

“This data has a significant impact in the game so it has to be as accurate as possible because we want to make the player a perfect and true reflection of the player he is in real life. The data is translated into form ratings for 600 teams and 16,000 players in FIFA.”

When we play Fifa 14 we hallucinate. We see real stadiums, perfect-looking Steven Gerrards, and authentic blood-and-thunder El Clásicos.

It begs the question: How important have official licenses and stadiums been in Fifa’s evolution over the years, and does it get harder to secure them with the amount of money floating around the professional game?

“The vast majority of our fans want a game that looks, feels and plays like the football they watch every week.

“Our fans want to play with their favourite clubs and players so we have made authenticity an integral part of our game.

“FIFA is the most authentic sports game on the planet with 33 leagues and over 600 licensed clubs. While I can’t get into specifics, most clubs and leagues see it as mutually beneficial to be included in our game.

“Most leagues and clubs understand the value of being included in our game in an official capacity and having their brand in front of millions of fans worldwide.”

The team no doubt loves the beautiful game (evident from the massive EA-branded football pitch next to the office). Is a passion for living and breathing football at all levels a necessity for working on a Fifa game?

“Passion for football is in our DNA. The FIFA development team is comprised of individuals from countries all over the world, all united by their passion for football.

“It’s this passion that drives our inspiration. Every game something happens that sparks an idea or starts a conversation that enables us to create a game that more closely resembles the real-world game of football.”

It’s online play that’s giving us the most trouble lately. Symptoms include beating players all over Europe and smashing controllers on the off-chance we lose.

Can it get any better? Are there any surprises in store for PS4 and Xbox One owners over the coming years?

“The FIFA community grows every year and the new generation of hardware will allow us to bring people together more and more seamlessly.

“Co-op Seasons is a great addition for our first year with the new consoles, and we will continue to innovate in this area in future years as well.

“With the addition of legends in FIFA ultimate Team on Xbox, we believe this will really add to the overall experience.”

Dejected that the condition appears to be terminal we head home with Santiago Jaramillo’s final prognosis ringing in our ears.

“We set out to deliver a game on Xbox One and PS4 that was as fully featured as possible, and also had significant changes to gameplay that took advantage of the new hardware.

“Features like Pro instincts and Elite Technique do just that, and they take gameplay that we are already proud of on current gen, to the next level.

“When you couple that with all the things we’ve been doing on the presentation side of things, like new crowds, new cameras, better replays, and animated sideline characters, FIFA 14 on the new consoles really feels alive.”

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