Fact check: Did UEFA EURO 2008 have a momentum feature?

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In an interview with FIFAsoccerblog.com, EA’s Aaron McHardy explained that UEFA EURO 2008 had a “momentum” feature. What exactly was that feature and would it explain any of the complaints about momentum which we see today? We checked it out.

The claim

A lot of people believe that EA creates momentum shifts inside matches in order to allow the losing side to catch up in the same way that racing games have been using what is known as a rubber banding logic.

We already dealt with – and refuted – the claim above on several occasions here on the blog. But since our evidence mainly is based on later versions of FIFA, there could be a theoretical possibility that such a feature did exist back in 2008. So, what was this so-called momentum feature found in UEFA EURO 2008?

UEFA EURO 2008

McHardy refers to a “momentum” feature in UEFA EURO 2008, but exactly how did that feature work? I consulted the UEFA EURO 2008 manual and the official game notes for more information. Both of them contain references to the feature briefly described by Aaron McHardy.

The official game notes mention the word “momentum” in relation to a feature called “Dynamic Player Ratings”:

“Real-time player ratings change based on actual player performance, simulating the momentum swings of a real season.”

The manual doesn’t mention dynamic player ratings, but it contains a section called Momentum, which describes a concept with similar characteristics:

“When the momentum is with your team, its overall performance and scoring ability is boosted. Goals and shots on-target help build momentum.”

As was the case in earlier editions of the game, the player could see the current momentum displayed as a bar chart:

So, to sum up the information at hand, the “momentum” feature in UEFA Euro 2008 would boost the performance stats of your players if you scored or had shots on target. Unless it worked opposite to the intended, it is unlikely that such a feature would turn any match upside down or allow the trailing player to catch up out of the blue. Of course, a player trailing by 2-0 could score a goal and thereby win the momentum over but the opposite – a player riding the wave of momentum to increase his lead – would be minimum as likely to happen. So, quite clearly, the then present momentum feature had nothing to do with catch up logic or rubber banding.

Critical Moment AI

However, EA’s official UEFA EURO 2008 manual also mentions another feature which was hyped and advertised at the time, namely Critical Moment AI:

“The all-new Critical Moment AI lets you find the players on your team that have a reputation for scoring the clutch last-minute goals that are synonymous with big tournaments like UEFA EURO 2008.
If your team is down a goal or drawn in the 80th minute, keep an eye out for special player indicators that appear under the players on your team that are proven match winners.
During this time, it’s critical to get the ball to these highlighted players.
They are given a temporary ratings boost, and possess the superior shot power and finishing ability to save the day and win the match for you.”

During the decisive moments, the game would highlight players which were proven match winners by displaying a gigantic red mark under them. Those players would become more likely to move into position in order to receive the ball and they would receive a temporary rating boost, which ultimately could allow them to equalize or grab a late winner after the 80th minute.

Catch up logic?

Could this feature create the situation which have lead to allegations about a momentum in today’s FIFA?

First and foremost, Critical Moment AI wasn’t a catch up logic. While it is true that it would increase the probability of a team trailing by a single goal catching up, it’s would also increase the probability of a draw turning into a 1-goal win. Also, please note that this feature had no effect if either team was trailing by 2 goals or more. Hence, the intended end product of Critical Moment AI clearly wasn’t tighter matches.

Second, please note that this feature was advertised and hyped as an exiting new part of the game. Why would EA lie about such a feature if it was present in the game today, when considering that the felt that it was worth advertising 10 years ago? This just doesn’t make sense.

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