The authenticity of the FIFA series is what puts it above other franchises; 700 teams to play as, 100 stadiums to play in and 30 leagues to conquer. But what sets FIFA apart is the sheer number of authentic and unique player faces, crafted to be near identical to their real-life counterparts.
Player faces make up a lot of the buzz surrounding new FIFA titles and their updates, but how do they come to be? We’ve already covered the different types of player faces you can find in FIFA 23, but how exactly does EA take a world star and transport their electronic double onto our screens?
As we know, football is a business and players and teams have licenses which FIFA needs to get in order to be able to put those player likenesses in-game. Thankfully, recent years have seen many league-wide agreements made, such as the Premier League, La Liga, and the Bundesliga, in order to better facilitate player likenesses being added to the upcoming year’s game. This means that we can get faces for players at clubs who have existing partnerships with other franchises… usually (looking at you here Barcelona…)
FIFA headshot day. 😎
Take a look behind-the-scenes as the lads step in front of the @EASPORTSFIFA cameras. 📸
🌳🔴 #NFFC | #PL pic.twitter.com/pxW6I3d2J4
— Nottingham Forest FC (@NFFC) August 10, 2022
When scanning a player’s face, the EA graphics team uses a process called photogrammetry. This process takes hundreds of photos of a players face from a variety of different angles, to create a map of the player’s head. The photos are then sent to the EA team in Vancouver to compile and turn into a 3D model of the player’s head. They’ll then smooth out the model, ensure all the textures are lined up, and we’ll end up with a finished and authentic-looking player face.
Obviously, some famous players aren’t able to be scanned for various reasons, so the EA team may end up making a custom one. Custom faces are created by using a series of reference images, instead of the high-resolution photographs taken during a scanning session. They’ll end up making the model from scratch and source the right textures from the best-quality photos available.
Face-makers in the FIFA modding community use exactly the same process, which is why we can find modded player faces that are just as good as EA’s.
Once the face model is finished and ready to go, it needs to be put into the game. For a player to have a real face in the latest release version of FIFA, two questions need to be answered:
- Does this player have a unique face model in the game files?
- Does the player’s entry in the game database specify that they should use a unique face model?
Unfortunately for a lot of Career Mode players on social media, it’s that second question that trips them up.
As many people know, the squad update the player selects to use when starting a new Career Mode save is locked in for the entirety of that save. What this means in real terms for Career Mode players is that, if a player didn’t have a face when they started that save file, they won’t even have one in it.
However, if the player had a real face and that real face was updated, then the newest version WILL show up. This is because the answer to that important second question hasn’t changed; the player was already registered as having a real face in the database, so it just magically swaps the face model.
Leao & Antony both have the bald placeholder faces.. I think they will have customs in the next update along with other new faces 🤞 #FIFA23 pic.twitter.com/RwTfTt96Xg
— Phasmix (@PSwbf) October 14, 2022
The normal way for things to happen is that updates containing new player faces arrive before the Squad Update that flicks that important switch and turns them on. However, in some cases, the opposite happens and we get some players with bald placeholder faces instead. If you were to start a career mode save and a certain player has a placeholder face (a lot of people did this with Darwin Núñez) then once the face model makes its way into the game files, the face will automatically come up.
Future title updates and the eagerly anticipated EA FC 24 are sure to bring us more authentic player faces. You can enjoy the current crop of authenticity with FIFA 23, available now on PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X | S, Xbox One and PC.