- Every year, “Madden NFL” rates the skills of nearly 3,000 professional players based on more than 50 different attributes.
- Electronic Arts gave ESPN an inside look at how the “Madden NFL 20” development team designed this year’s player ratings.
- The creators of “Madden NFL 20” say they want the game to feel more realistic this year, leading to lower ratings overall and larger gaps between players.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Measuring the talent of NFL players is a tough job for any head coach or scout, but the creators of “Madden NFL 20” will rate nearly 3,000 players in the upcoming video game before the NFL makes its final cuts.
“Madden” has been the top football video game for more than a decade, and each year, the development team at Electronic Arts rates NFL players based on more than 50 different attributes. “Madden NFL 20” is due out on August 2, but the development team was already working on ratings when ESPN reporters visited in March. During the ESPN visit, the team explained how they came up with ratings for the NFL’s incoming rookie class.
ESPN spoke to Dustin Smith, head Madden ratings adjuster at EA Sports, and Andre Weingarten, associate franchise and gameplay designer. Smith, 34, took on the role of head ratings adjuster in 2017 after spending several years as a game tester. Weingarten, 23, was hired as a full-time employee in April after accepting a one-year contract to work on “Madden” in 2018, according to ESPN.
The team built 401 rookie players for “Madden NFL 20” before February 1, more than twice as many as they had done in April 2018 before Weingarten joined EA. Players are created with a mix of physical and mental attributes, measuring things like strength, speed, passing accuracy, and defensive awareness. There are more than 50 different attributes and each one is assigned a value between 1 and 100.
Yes…these are the REAL ratings ???? pic.twitter.com/yAw0tOqnmY
— Madden NFL 22 (@EAMaddenNFL) July 1, 2019
“Madden” updates player ratings on a weekly basis during the season, and players have shown that they’re heavily invested in the process. Smith said Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. blocked him on Twitter because he was frustrated with his rating.
Weingarten and Smith told ESPN that they hope to make players feel more realistic in this year’s “Madden,” which led to lower overall ratings and bigger skill gaps between players. Last year’s game had 1,590 players with an overall rating of 70 or better, but this year that number is down to 1,177. Smith said the worst players in “Madden NFL 20” will now have an overall rating of about 51, compared to a bottom rating of about 59 last year.
For rookies, physical attributes like speed and jumping are based on their results from the NFL combine. The “Madden” development team uses secret formulas to convert combine statistics into a rating, and the formulas are tweaked from year to year. Less tangible attributes like accuracy or tackling ability are based on a mix of scouting reports and game footage.
Smith and Weingarten said that quarterbacks take the most time to rate properly because they have eight different attributes that are exclusive to their position. Mobile quarterbacks like Kyler Murray and Russell Wilson also require extra attention to ensure that they’re properly balanced compared to running backs.
For more a detailed look this year’s ratings and how EA ranks the NFL’s stars, be sure to check out ESPN’s full feature story.
“Madden NFL 20” will be released for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on August 2. You can get access to the game three days early by joining EA’s Origin Access Premier or by pre-ordering the $US80 Superstar Edition.