GAME OVR – The Strange Obsession With OVR Ratings In Sports Games

In gaming all ‘ability’ levels are based around number ratings and scales.  The only difference in ratings comes in how they are presented (or not presented) to the user.  Everything from guns in Call of Duty to Spin Ratings for Defensive Tackles in Madden have some sort of numerical value – even if they aren’t presented to you in that fashion, the ratings are numerically based once you dig into the guts and binary code of the game.  That said, there is one rating in-particular that seems to be an obsession with sports gamers… the Overall (OVR) rating.

In Madden NFL, NBA 2K, NHL, FIFA, NCAA Football (RIP), etc. the primary measure of a player’s worth is in his OVR rating.  While the determining factors for a player’s OVR may differ between games it seems that it is the only thing that matters to most sports gamers in determining a player’s value/talent in the given game.  Granted, in Madden and NCAA the other rating of almost equal importance over the last 10+ years has been Speed (SPD) ratings for ‘skill’ positions – OVR is still king when it comes to determining the success and worth of a player.  In fact, it should be changed to a ‘Physical’ (PHY) rating as we develop a totally new rating.

How Do You Increase OVR In Madden?

To get this out of the way, there have been many people asking how to increase the OVR of their players in Madden 25.  This is rather simple as long as you are earning enough XP for the player during your Franchise/Career mode.  Always start with the Awareness Rating (AWR) of the player and you will soon see the OVR jump substantially.  After that, it is all about investing in the position specific categories for the player.  So, if you have a QB – start with AWR and then move to Throwing Accuracy, Throwing Power and so-forth.  If you have a HB, I suggest starting again with AWR and then moving onto Spin, Juke, Stiff Arm, etc.  Hopefully this helps – but when in doubt you should always start with the mysterious AWR Rating.

How To Best Rate Players?

This is a question that often creeps up in sports gaming forums.  While there is a necessity to depend on numerical ratings for players (at least in the ‘hidden guts’ of the game, as stated above) there seems to be a growing divide among sports gamers as to how these ratings should be shown to the gamer – or if they should be at all.

Madden NFL’s rating system is vast and sometimes confusing (or simply meaningless in some cases).  With Donny Moore being the primary focus of players getting weekly boosts or reductions in ratings based on their real-life performance for online roster updates there are many gamers and fans out there that question his ability to make the right changes.  I have been critical of his rating changes in the past and I am not about to retract my remarks or references.  However, it is feeling more and more like the best way to rate players in Franchise/Association/Career/Owner modes should be determined by more than some sort of absolute numerical value on an interactive in-game spreadsheet.

Every team and franchise values players differently.  Every owner, coach, scout and fan places different values on players as well.  This is where I believe the best rating system should include a mix of numbers, letters and gold stars (yeah, I said it – gold stars).

The grade of a player’s SPD should be determined by multiple factors – including game/season fatigue to start.  Also, this all important rating should also be determined by weather conditions (including high heat) and agility if necessary.

As for ‘Overall’ (OVR) I am of the strong opinion that it should be changed to ‘Value’ (VAL).  This might seem just as arbitrary as OVR but if we changed the rating to VAL and based it around the play-style/coaching style of the gamer and the resulting ‘fan value’ of a player it would make for a far more realistic experience in career modes and in the game.

Explaining The “Value Rating” In Detail With Examples

My suggested value rating would require an extremely ‘organic’ and amoeba-like rating system that changes from week to week and moment to moment.  This would also likely be extremely difficult to develop without serious bugs in code, etc. – but why not consider it anyway?

It all starts with creating an initial philosophy.  This will differ depending on at which level you are assuming control of your team (Owner, Coach, etc.).  Some owners are all about making money first and having a great team second (think Randy Lerner in Cleveland).  Other owners like to think they are the best judges of talent in the league (think Jerry Jones and the late Al Davis).  Then you have owners like Robert Craft that support a coach that they trust and watch the victories (and the money) pour into their franchise.

Madden has started to make this type of change recently with Coaching Schemes playing a role in the ratings of players.  However, this hasn’t translated to any real changes in the gameplay (which is a different discussion altogether).  The downfall in this is that the players are still being judged on their scheme type and ratings in their OVR rather than their production and value to the franchise, team and fans.

The VAL rating would consider the percentage of time that player is on the field.  How many times the player touched the ball and perhaps how often the gamer controls that player on defense.  If you start taking into consideration the value you place on some players in terms of actually using them it becomes a much more involved and introspective gaming experience.

My Madden 13 CCM with the Cleveland Browns has reached the 2020 season and I have developed some of my players into some of the statistically best players that have ever played.  My 2013 Draft Pick was a 2nd Rd QB, Mark Mallett out of Oregon State.  He has developed into the best QB in the league averaging over 43 TDs and 5000 yards a season.  He has also won four Super Bowls (with 4 MVPs to go with them).  I decided that in his contract renewal process that I would reward him for being the franchise player that he is and I did this with a 6-Year $132 million deal.  I followed that up with a deal for Joe Haden to stay with my team through the 2026 season.  The moral of the story is that even if Mallett hadn’t progressed with his physical ratings he would still warrant a huge contract no matter what and this is because of his value… not his skills.

Tom Brady doesn’t exactly run like the wind… neither does Peyton Manning.  Somehow they are still considered the two best QBs in the NFL.  Sure, they have good arms and are accurate passers – but they are also smart/intelligent leaders.  This is where the performance of players under ‘user/gamer’ control should start to develop this same Value as games and seasons progress.

What do you think?  How should ratings be decided in sports gaming?

The Best of The Worst – Teams to Turn Around In Sports Gaming

Now that we are well over half-way through the NFL season and the NBA season has already put some fans in the mind of ‘maybe next year’ there are quite a few teams to choose from when it comes to wanting a challenge or simply some sort of revival story to build a team around in a sports game.

Madden 13 –

Kansas City – Romeo Crennel has made Brady Quinn the starting QB in KC.  Can you take this team of terribad from laughing stock to the playoffs?  You will have plenty of youth to build around such as Eric Berry, Jamaal Charles, Dwayne Bowe and even Glenn Dorsey.  Your first goal should be finding a decent QB to help this team achieve greatness.

Cleveland – The Browns are a perennial sad sack.  While this is a team that has consistently under-performed there are multiple ways for you to take Cleveland to the next level.  There are a lot of great young players on this team, but you will need to make a quick decision on whether to keep Brandon Weeden or move on in one of the upcoming drafts.

Arizona – Once again, you are getting ready to take a team that needs a QB answer (and fast)… see a theme here?  The Cardinals have a couple decent players to build around, but you will have to take your time and figure out how to answer some tough questions – including whether or not you want to keep Larry Fitzgerald around if you don’t have a QB to throw him the ball.  That could result in a lot of decent trade offers if you decide to put him on the trade  block as well.  While it may sound crazy, it is something to consider.

New York Jets – The Jets are a mess.  One of the best things that could happen to this team is to get rid of their QBs… all of them.  Then make a few decisions about how you want to build this franchise from the ground up.  There are some players like Stephen Hill at WR that could be nice projects to build around, but then you have players like Darrelle Revis, Santonio Holmes and Shonn Greene that could be moved for draft picks so that you can build a team made to last rather than a team built to make headlines for publicity stunts (see Tim Tebow).

Jacksonville – More than just a team that has no real talent, they are constantly a threat to be moved to Los Angeles.  Since EA Tiburon took the option to move your team to another city out of the game (they enjoy taking features away) you have to make moves and stay in Jacksonville to make this team better.  If you win three games in your first season you can consider it a somewhat successful year.  Get a new QB, trade away MJD and do your best to find some talent for this team that seems to be the biggest laughing stock of the NFL.

Carolina – The Panthers are one of the few teams on this list that have a QB in Cam Newton.  On the other hand, they have a lot of other places on their team that need vast improvement.  While they have a great MLB in Luke Kuechly they are pretty much limited to having just those players to build around.  Make use of the trade block and build this team around future picks that you can get from trading away players like DeAngelo Williams, Steve Smith, Jonathan Stewart, Chris Gamble and any other player you can do without.

Dallas – Talk about a team that makes you scratch your head.  The Cowboys are consistently picked to be a playoff team but in the end it is their egotistical owner that really makes the worst decisions for the future of this team.  Make a new story for the Cowboys that will allow them to make smart personnel decisions.  This means getting rid of the most overrated QB in the NFL – Tony Romo.  Also, you may want to consider getting what you can for DeMarcus Ware.

Oakland – The first step in this team growing was the death of the Crypt Keeper, Al Davis.  The next step is building this franchise to be more than glorified Speed Ratings.  Make a decision on how you want to build the offense and defense – that means possibly taking a chance on Terrelle Pryor or going in a totally new direction.  Then start building the defense into something to be feared like it was in the 1970s.

 

NBA 2K13 –

Cleveland – The Cavs are a young team that has a cornerstone in Kyrie Irving but that isn’t enough as they need to work on getting this talent to be more than potential prospects.  They need to grow up fast and that could mean a lot of work for you in Association Mode.

Washington – The Wizards are laughingly bad.  Sure, John Wall is amazing – but really they are flatout awful.  Get ready to trade a lot of your best players like Okafor just to get some prospects.

Detroit – Only a few years ago the Pistons were powerful and feared.  Now they are hilarious to watch on the court.  They look more like a team getting ready to face the Globetrotters than an NBA team at times.  This is a team built around unwanted journeymen and bad trades.  It will take you a few seasons to turn them around – but it will be worth it.

Sacramento – Considering the fact that the Maloofs are looking to move this team to Las Vegas, you can tell that they are in need for some improvement.  The Kings were once one of the best teams in the west, but now they are often forgotten when people talk about NBA teams.  I forget they exist half of the time.  I call them the Wizards of the west.

New Orleans – This team got the equivalent of a bailout from the NBA.  Chris Paul said bye-bye and now they are being built around the unibrow of Anthony Davis.  New Orleans needs more than yet another Kentucky product with an IQ less than his scoring average to turn this team around.

Orlando – Dwight Howard is gone.  This move was similar to that of LeBron James leaving Cleveland.  How will you bring the magic back to Orlando?

 

MLB 12 –

Cleveland – Talk about a team with a chance to make big strides with a new manager.  Terry Francona is the new skipper and you will have to make a few moves to bring some pitching and power to this lineup.

Houston – Do something… anything.  Even if it means creating a steroid infused Roger Clemens to come back and pitch this team to at least 20 wins.  It is a bad time to be an Astros fan, but now that they are moving to the American League it could make for a fun journey… albeit – a long and tough one.

Colorado – They made an incredible run a few years ago, but this team needs pitching in the worst way.  Take it upon yourself to manage the thin air and find a way to make Denver cheer for a team not called the Broncos.

Miami – They just fired Ozzie Guillen and now they are selling off their players.  This is a team that will take a lot of patience to build into more than a one-year wonder.  Do it the right way and you will have something to be proud of in the end.

Pittsburgh – This team was on the cusp of making the playoffs in 2012.  Take the power in the steel city and bring this team back to their past glory.  They have a great ballpark and with players like McCutchen to build around it could be a lot of fun.

Oakland – One of my favorite movies of the last few years was Moneyball.  Billy Beane took a chance in using stats and fantasy baseball type of projections to build his team.  Take it to the next step and help them win it all.

Seattle – My favorite player of all-time is Ken Griffey Jr.  When I saw him go back to Seattle to finish his career it was bitter-sweet.  I would love to see this team be more than just a great pitcher like Felix Henandez – they need better players and that starts with you making the moves to bring the talent back to Seattle.

NHL 13 –

Who cares?  The NHL season is dead and the sport of hockey on its way out of almost every person’s consciousness.

Pick any team you want – but the best of the worst would be the Columbus Blue Jackets.