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FIFA 13: Youth Player Progression 
Posted on July 9, 2012 at 01:46 PM.

FIFA 13 portada Messi


Look for more posts on FIFA 13 in my FIFA Series here.


The early news has started trickling in around FIFA 13, and it's focused on two areas: gameplay and the iOS app. I think if you look at sales and reviews, people generally enjoyed the gameplay FIFA 12 had to offer. And as cool as winning an Ultimate Team auction on my phone is, it's not what I would call a must-have feature.

What I want to know is simple: can my young bench players get the chance to turn in to stars in FIFA 13?

It's clear to long-time career mode players that progression needs work, and has for awhile since the removal of the XP system. But last year, you could see starting young players turn in to stars; Gotze, Hazard, Wilshere, Hummels. The problem was a player like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Because he wasn't good enough to start against Premier League opposition, he only got subbed in to games. Because he only got subbed in to games, he didn't get enough time on the pitch to get a decent match rating. And if he was out on loan, he often sat the bench, and therefore didn't progress either. Though his potential was fairly high, he'd never get close to it because of the nature of how progression and calculated "game time" are linked.

Seeing this area tweaked would go a long way to making the Career mode experience more varied and more immersive. The Youth Academy system added to last year's game was a solid step forward, but was only half-finished by release. And the fact that a player can't "blow up" in a single season (5+ points overall) is unrealistic.

Here's a few tweaks I think can help fix progression in FIFA 13:

Change #1: Make hot streaks turn in to large progression jumps (and cold streaks drop ratings)



Gareth Bale



FIFA ratings don't fluctuate enough, period. Real life is full of examples, and those examples have even caused FIFA's game ratings to jump in response. An easy example is Gareth Bale. We know Bale was highly touted as a youngster, and had a massive year+ in late 2010 and 2011. So what happened to his FIFA ratings? (I pulled these numbers from Bale's page at http://http://sofifa.com/)

Winter 2010 Roster: Age 21, Overall 73, Potential 80
Original 2011 Roster: Age 22, Overall 81, Potential 85
Winter 2011 Roster: Age 22, Overall 84, Potential 85
Original 2012 Roster: Age 23, Overall 86, Potential 90
Winter 2012 Roster: Age 23, Overall 85, Potential 90

Three things jump out on the above. First, in a single year from 2010-2011, Bale's rating was adjusted a whopping 11 points. You'd never see that kind of increase in Career Mode! Second, each year, Bale's potential rating increased by five points, meaning his ceiling increased by 10 points after two years of strong performance. Again, not something that can be replicated in the current mode. Third, in the latest roster update, his overall was decreased by one, despite the fact he hasn't even reached his physical prime. This happened because Bale "cooled off" after his crazy rise in 2011, but I've never seen a young player of that age have a similar drop in FIFA. Injury or lack of playing time could also conceivably cause a drop-off.

This can be a pretty easily tweaked. Allow large jumps/falls in ratings, and make strong match performances mean more (and cold streaks have a larger negative impact.) Of course, tuning this is always a challenge so you don't have a career mode with 100 90+ players three years in. But with the right regression paired with fast progression, it'll be a more dynamic mode, and more fun as well, since youth will have a chance to become superstars more quickly.

Change #2: Make substitute appearances significant in progression (especially for young players)


FIFA 13 | Wilshere pass to Oxlade-Chamberlain



This one has always driven me crazy. FIFA progresses players from user-played games largely from their match rating number. If a player receives a N/A match rating, they won't progress. But later game substitutions either result in a N/A match rating or a low rating, because the player hasn't been on the pitch the whole game (and therefore benefit from goal scoring, passing statistics, etc.) This means that in order to really progress as a youngster, you need first team starts. This is both unrealistic and backwards, since part of developing as a young player in soccer is taking your chance as they come. Additionally, you'll have practice, reserve team matches, and appearances in cup competitions to help increase your skills.

Only change here is either to change the match rating logic or ditch it in regards to substitutions and give a standard experience amount when getting subbed in during the game. The amount of XP can vary, but without this tweak, I'll continue to largely ignore substitutions for younger players, and only use youngsters in early stages of the cups.

Change #3: Add a real reserve team or merge the Youth Academy with it



Corpus Christi Youth Soccer Training Academy



This one is more radical, given the Youth Academy was just added last year (maybe that means it's more likely to happen, I'm not sure.) The idea is to allow the bench and reserve players (whether 'generated' or real life youngsters) to move back and forth between the first team and the youth academy. While in the academy, their training and progression could move as a kind of simulation of reserve team matches and training. Or, if the youth academy needs to remain separate, create a real reserve team (not just a section of the main squad) that play in reserve matches and get that desperately-needed XP. It's too much to ask to play those reserve team matches (this isn't FM after all), but if the team exists as a separate entity, it's another way to get youth to develop properly.

Even just being able to practice with the youth team and first team in-between matches in Career Mode could add some nice depth. And promotion/demotion to the reserves or youth academy could add to the morale aspects they put in last year's Career mode. Unless recovering from an injury, would cover boy Lionel Messi ever want to appear in the reserves?

Change #4: Improve loans and team selection


FIFA 13 | Emanuelson block



Finally, an easy one for EA to change that has been mentioned countless times before me - make loans really work to develop players. This starts with the loan screen itself. Many others have noted that seeing your own strikers when loaning out your striker is not helpful (you probably know who is on your team), but if Reading or Real Sociedad are the borrowers, you need to see their striker list. No sense in loaning out your player to sit the bench. And even if you do loan your player out and he's in competition for a starting spot on that team, you'll never really know how he's playing beyond his overall rating in the squad screen. Once loaned in the FIFA 12 career mode, you could expect a player to pick up a point, at the most two points overall. That means a 64-overall rated Carl Jenkinson would need to be on loan approximately 7 years to have a shot at the first team - and that's with maximum progression each year. Makes no sense, really.

A more detailed list of loaned players is needed in the squad section, with stats, reports on progression. Here would be a good place to assign areas of improvement as well, for example. Instructing a young Bendtner to focus on retaining possession before shooting (and maybe keeping his pants pulled up) would add depth, and the player might respond with increased ratings in that area of his game. Again, I think these changes can mostly be dropped in to the existing simulation engine - it's just a question of exposing some of the underlying loan fundamentals, and maybe tweaking the progression formula to make them worthwhile.

I'm sure there are more ways to get progression fixed in FIFA 13. What other things would you like to see changed about progression?
Comments
# 1 pirateraider @ Jul 10
Good list man! Definitely think #3 and 4 are essential. You'd figure a team acquiring a player on loan would put him to good use, guess you can't trust anyone anymore
 
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