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EA Sports FC 24 interview: “absolutely confident” about women in Ultimate Team, and how it works

We sat down with senior producer Sam Rivera to chat about the biggest innovations in EA Sports FC 24
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At the EA Sports FC 24 reveal event in Amsterdam, we sat with senior producer Sam Rivera to chat about some of the biggest innovations and additions coming to the new soccer game. Releasing after the very public divorce from FIFA, EA Sports FC 24 needed something explosive to catch players’ eyes, and there’s at least a couple of things from the presentation that managed to do so.

We asked Rivera about the introduction of women players in Ultimate Team, a bold move coming at the end of a journey where EA Sports has invested a lot in women’s football, but also about the game feeling slower compared to FIFA 23, Hypermotion V, AcceleRATE 2.0, and partnering with Opta for more realistic PlayStyles. Here’s what he told us.

GLHF: Playing the game, I instantly noticed that EA Sports FC 24 feels much slower and much more thoughtful compared to last year, which is a compliment to me. How do you explain that, and is it just a matter of slowing down the game or adding more animations to your players’ first touch?

Sam Rivera: One of our goals is to make the game more realistic every year. And when we introduce volumetric capture and all that this year, we’re basically bringing more components of real-world football into our game that make it - yeah, more thoughtful as it is in real life. And what you mentioned, we are not actively making it slower. It’s just every year, all the changes that we make, together, change the balance of the game. And sometimes it may feel like maybe there’s more attacking opportunities, maybe not. And there’s just so many factors contributing to the fact that you feel that it’s slower or faster. So, I would say every year it’s just different. We are not [doing that] on purpose, making it slower, after all. It’s a game where goals need to be scored, and every half is only six minutes. So we just need to find, looking at the numbers, how many goals per game, shots per game, tackles per game. We just need to find something that feels fun. But on top of that, all the new mechanics and all the changes we do every year - I literally hear feedback from people saying, well, now certain things are faster, certain things are slower. It is basically different.

Last year, we saw AcceleRATE really changing how players run on the pitch. With seven different archetypes, what can we expect this year from AcceleRATE 2.0?

Yeah, I think AcceleRATE was a very interesting, very important feature last year. Still, having only three archetypes we felt like, well, there’s definitely room for more variety because, in real life, there’s more than just three different types of acceleration — everyone is unique. So how do we introduce more of that? That’s why we went to seven. Now, there are different things that you can only understand when the game is out and played by millions of people. Right now, if you ask me, which one do you think is gonna be the archetype that’s gonna be the most useful, who knows? Because it’s not just the archetype. As I mentioned, a lot of things change every year. So the balance of the game is different, and it’s very hard to say - we’re just gonna monitor and make sure that there’s no [dominant] archetype, for example. But we’ll see, it’s one of those things where the game needs to be out for us to be able to see, of course, pay a lot of attention to this thing, this new feature that is really interesting.

Back on FIFA 11, you introduced Personality+, and now you have PlayStyles that really reminds me of that. It’s powered by Opta, a name football fans are familiar with. How did your partnership work, and what does it bring to the game?

Basically, they have very useful information, very useful data that they collect for us that can inform us about what players are doing, what are the tendencies of players - players who do long shots, for example - and we have that information, we look at it, and that informs which play the player is gonna have. So, we are now basing a lot of the decisions we have for play and even for attributes as well based on real-life data. So yeah, it’s really cool because it allows us to be more accurate at a high level. In the past, our data collection team would observe a lot of matches and come up with stats. Now, a lot of that data can come directly from the data when that update is collected.

Over the last few years, you gathered data from Spanish second and third divisions’ players, while for EA Sports FC 24 you’re scanning real matches’ footage, played by some of the best players around. It sounds like a huge difference.

This is a very good question. The athleticism of the best players in the world, like Haaland. And that’s why we show that shot [from last season’s Champions League final] because in the presentation where he’s stretching, running, and then he gets that powerful shot in the opposite direction that’s very difficult to do. So the athleticism of the best players in the world is not simple, and the technique is just a different level. Even just Man City, the way they are playing right now is - if they play against another Premier League team, maybe not top of the table, you can see right away that Man City has such good technique, such good strategy, such good tactics, and here we’re seeing the same thing with this data. We can get that top-class motion and athleticism from the best players in the world, exactly how they control the ball and all that. That’s finally in FC 24, which is very exciting.

The introduction of women in Ultimate Team - even playing the game, we can see the differences between these two play styles. Women’s teams are a little faster, and a little lighter. So, do you think on a technology and gameplay side of things, you’ve set up a good base for these teams to come together? Are you confident about what’s happening in the game right now?

Absolutely confident. There’s differences between the players, and of course, there are three things that matter: attributes, height, and mass. Mass - you can see it in the weight of the players. And then, if you put a man player and a woman player together, but they have the same attributes, mass and height, they behave exactly the same, they’re the same. So basically, what this means is that we’re just introducing a lot more players to the already big pool of players that we had, with more characteristics, with different types of skills, and gameplay balance. So, for example, in your Ultimate Team, I’m assuming you have maybe someone like Messi and you could also have some big defenders like Van Dijk - or whoever you pick: both have different skills, and both are necessary. There’s also, for example, Cannavaro: for a defender, he’s not too tall, but he’s still very useful in Ultimate Team because every player has benefits and advantages in terms of gameplay. So for some, it’s the strength and jumping. For some, it’s maybe the agility, if you have good agility, then you can jockey faster, you can turn faster, you can do all these things that allow you to have an impact in the game you have. So it’s really what you prioritize for your team, and what type of skills you want to have, what type of skills you want to take advantage of with your personal play style. So, this is really, really good for the variety that you are going to see in Ultimate Team. The team is very, very excited to have men and women playing together.