Monday, February 23, 2015

FIFA 15's Completely Sensible Season Simulation

Each year around this time I like to sit down for a few minutes and run through a simulation or two of EA's wildly popular FIFA franchise. Before I get to the sim though, let's take a minute to pull up what a 'wildly popular' video game looks like.

"FIFA" sold 13.3 million units in 2014 (Xbox, Playstation). A version of the game was number one last year in the UK, France and Germany out of all games made on any platform. While Madden's NFL and 2k Sports NBA franchises still out sell FIFA four to one in the US, the soccer franchise still manages a very healthy 1.7 million units here (13% of the worldwide total). The highest ranked version of the game last year was 48th (Xbox 360).

Speaking of the global stage; FIFA outsold the Madden franchise by almost 8 million copies on major consoles (13.3 to 5.4 million - Xbox and Playstation). No real surprises there to most of us. Soccer's appeal is global and the game reflects that with leagues spanning most of the planet and Madden looking only at a few markets in the US.

$670 million USD is roughly what EA's FIFA franchise pulled in last year alone. That figure puts it right around Interstellar and How to Train Your Dragon 2 for 11th on the worldwide MOVIE grosses.

Reminder: FIFA, along with many other sports video game franchises, is a yearly release.

Needless to say, it's getting something right. Perhaps more than just having updated rosters, team logos, leagues, uniforms and stadiums... it does get, at least to some degree, individual player abilities down accurately. It has to. Fans playing the game are using their favorite team. A deal breaker would be players behaving incorrectly.

I've been with the franchise off and on over the course of its twenty year history, with a growing physical collection of games dating back to the first. Since 2009, the games have been a regular fall kick off event for me. Usually dying off sometime around Thanksgiving but picking back up right around now - when MLS rosters start to take shape.

EA stays with that shape (for the most part) these days, even with MLS, throughout the offseason. Not perfect by any means but they nail the high level summary of things, all the way down to the player level.

Back in 2012 I did my own set of simulations and came away with the game correctly prediction 8 of the 10 playoff teams and only missing on three teams more than 2 spots in their conference rank. The game also, somewhat remarkably, told me that Justin Meram would be a top scorer (just took him an extra year to get there, which I blame on Warzycha).

In 2013, I got 3 out of the 5 eastern playoff teams (tho, only getting 3 teams more than a couple spots off) - and the same again in 2014. Both years over thinking it and not using plain old and reliable FIFA.

This year SIX conference teams make it in the Playoffs. Since that's pretty much what teams play for, here's who FIFA has making it in:

IN (pts)
Toronto FC (60)
Philadelphia Union (56)
NY Red Bulls (49)
Columbus Crew SC (46)

New York City FC (not available yet)
Orlando City SC (not available yet)

Impact Montreal (44)
DC United (34)
New England Revolution (31)
Chicago Fire (31)

Woah, Philly. Not sure about that one. I might replace them with New England but otherwise this looks about right. I don't see how Toronto can miss this year. Even if they don't hit this year, they will next. It's inevitable and unfortunate.

Leading scorers were Álvaro Saborío, Clint Dempsey and Federico Higuain(!).

Here is how the rest of Crew SC looked on the goal front:

Goals - NAME (assists)
16 - HIGUAIN (4)
8 - FINLAY (2)
7 - TCHANI (1)
5 - MERAM (7)
4 - GALL (1)
3 - KAMARA* (2)
2 - BEDELL (0)
2 - FRANCIS (2)
1 - TRAPP (1)
1 - SPEAS (0)
1 - POGATETZ (0)
0 - SWANSON (1)
0 - SAEID (1)

*I simulated a couple times, Kamara plays off and on due to injury.

Anyhow, that's what FIFA says. Off to check out what's going on with Football Manager.

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