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?

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EA Sports Could Lose The Exclusive License For NFL Games – But They Won’t

The deal that ruined football gaming for almost a decade is scheduled to expire this year.  EA Sports and Madden have been synonymous with declining quality and innovation ever since coming to an agreement with the NFL and NFLPA to have exclusive rights for an NFL video game.  This essentially did away with any of the NFL games you might have played instead of Madden over the years before that fateful day in 2004.

While there is no doubt that Madden’s sales have been impressive for the 25 years that it has been around, there is cause for concern when there is a consistent feeling among consumers that the game is nothing more than a roster update every year.  To call Madden a simulation experience would be like calling Call of Duty a military simulator.  On the surface there is ‘football’ but once you boot the game and start playing it will feel more like a half-scripted arcade game with decent graphics, canned animations and poor physics.

When the exclusive license expires it will be more of a ceremonial expiration than anything to get excited about if you are a 2K Football fan.  This is because the NFL and the NFLPA (Players Association) are going to renew the deal.  Electronic Arts (EA) is like the New York Yankees of game development.  They are easily the most hated team in sports, their fans tend to be loud and obnoxious and they really don’t have to worry about sales every year… because they are the Yankees.  There is a big problem with the Yankees and that is starting to show on the field and in the front office (See A-Rod, etc.), much like EA and their overall performance as a game developer by and large.

Over the last few weeks EA has been ridiculed for their terrible release of the new SimCity game on PC.  They flubbed the launch in so many ways that you had to almost ask yourself if someone sabotaged them.  They had server issues that prevented people from playing the game when it came out.  Then they had numerous other issues that stemmed from their use of DRM (Digital Rights Management).  DRM being put into the game is a sign that EA fears piracy, and why shouldn’t they?  Gaming has slipped into a realm of Catch 22 that few other industries have had to deal with outside of music and movies.  What you will start to notice is that when people want to support a business or a certain way of doing things they will speak with their wallet’s/purse’s/allowance.

The sales of Madden have been relatively stable over the course of the 360/PS3 generation of consoles.  This is coupled with the fact that the NFL has been bringing in billions of dollars as the favorite sport and form of entertainment of the United States.  It is going to be hard to tell either party that they should change what is going so well for them financially.  This is the primary reason why the exclusive license will carry on between EA Sports, the NFL and the NFLPA.  Money talks and so far the football gaming community has been speaking EA’s language.

The glimmer of hope can be found in the fact that EA lost exclusive rights to NCAA and Arena Football.  While the AFL is about as popular as VHS Tapes – college football is a huge business and a potentially open market for a developer like 2K Sports to take advantage of if they wanted to bring some sort of competition to EA’s doorstep.  There is a somewhat large group of football gamers that prefer NCAA Football over NFL football and EA’s NCAA Football has been less than stellar over the last few years.  Hopefully we will see a company like 2K Sports step up to the plate and work on a football game once again.  Lord knows they haven’t stepped up to the plate for hockey this year and they keep striking out on their baseball titles.

The best thing for Madden NFL is competition and they know it will make them have to step up their game.  Which is exactly why they will continue to hold the exclusive license for NFL gaming.  You can have hope that it will expire and not be renewed, but don’t hold your breath.

Do Legacy Games Get A Reprieve From Letting You Down?

Madden 13 has received great reviews from mainstream media, but when it comes to hardcore users – not so much.  Why is it then, that this game is selling like hot cakes with crack sauce?

If you don’t get your annual Madden fix will it be an itchy year?

It seems as if this is true to some extent.  While EA Tiburon made significant strides with the development of Madden 13 they still somehow managed to anger a faction hardcore community enough that they are up in arms over numerous ‘scandals’ that they seem to be taking personally.

Tebow for a moment and consider a world without annual releases.

Why is it then that they buy the game every year even if they think it is terrible or a let down?

Many of the problems that are prevalent in the gaming and software world revolve around giving the end-user just enough improvement or subtle tweaks that they want to give it a chance.  The expectations are so high that consumers don’t even look for things that will impress them.  Their eyes are studying every pixel for a flaw and every player movement for the slightest inaccurate animation.  This doesn’t mean they are wrong to be angry about not seeing the improvements they want to see… it just means they aren’t privy to what the corporation’s plan for consumer development and profit margins – rather than actual game improvement.

Don’t think for a moment that the developer is the only ‘guilty’ party.  The fact of the matter is that you are enabling a company to continue making what you term to be ‘broken’ games because you are buying them every single year.

If someone came to you asking for advice on how to deal with a person that continuously lets them down.  Every time they make plans something comes up.  Every time they say something, they find out it is a lie or maybe just an exaggeration.

What would you tell them?

Chances are good that you would advise them to end that relationship or step away from it slowly if they are worried about hurting feelings.

My question to those of you are continuously disappointed with Madden every year (or any other game – Call of Duty, Assassins Creed, etc.) is –

Are you obligated to purchase any of these things every single year?

If you don’t like the product you are buying every year, stop giving the company that makes it the power to keep making it.  Talk with your pocket-book rather than your angry fingers… money is the only language businesses speak.  If that means you have to take a course on Rosetta Stone in order to learn how to grow a monetary backbone – do it.

Stop giving annual releases a reprieve if you don’t like what you are getting – take the power back.

Borderlands 2 – Getting You Excited About Finding Amazing Guns… Tim Tebow Excited

If you haven’t played Borderlands up to this point, you have been missing out.  You haven’t just been missing out on a great game with an open world full of baddies.  You have been missing out on some of the craziest weapons you will ever see in gaming.  This isn’t an over-stated point… it might be an understatement.  If someone says “BFG” and “Doom” in the same sentence it is usually met with some sort of reaction that entails it being the best gun ever made in a video game.

The omnipotent BFG 9000 from the Doom Series.

Then again, if you have played Borderlands, you might have a certain gun that has been the greatest ever made.  What makes it better?  It could be completely unique to your experience!  We don’t use exclamation points often, but in this case it is worth it and necessary.  Borderlands is a game that gives you the opportunity to explore a vast world and in the process you will find weapons that are randomly generated for your enjoyment.  What type of guns can you find?  Here are a few examples –

These are some guns collected in Borderlands… Take a look at some of the damage and bonuses that come with these guns, rifles and rocket launchers.

In Borderlands 2 you should expect a lot of the the same.  Tons of guns (a lot of them will be crappy when you start) but once you get rolling you will never regret diving into this amazing open world FPS.

By the way, you should also know that when you team up with friends you can trade and give them some of the weapons you have found.  Who says charity isn’t a good thing?  When it gets you a shotgun that fires rockets with a sniper scope and it’s accurate to that range for 400 damage?… Yeah, we are excited like Tim Tebow.

We are Tebow-ing with ‘excitement’ for Borderlands 2

College Football Playoffs – The Nail In NCAA Football 13’s Coffin

It is starting to look rather bleak to be a football gaming fan this year.  Between the debacle with Madden’s limitations to the user and the growing distaste for EA’s monopoly on football gaming in-general.

Now that the NCAA has finally approved a playoff for college football to find a true champion it is a curious situation for EA’s yet-to-be released college title this year.  While this year and even next year’s titles will technically be correct in the bowls and the fact that the BCS will still exist… it does leave us to wonder what is the point of playing a game that will soon see it’s career/dynasty mode become pre-obsolete as gamers want nothing more than the ability to create the playoff system they have always wanted.

EA can’t catch a break.

What are your thoughts on NCAA 13 at this point?