Just thought I'd drop in here to let you know that I have been following this thread and to let you know a few of my feelings on this.
Firstly, let me say that manual will have its own leaderboards in FIFA11. I know its not everything that you wanted but it will at least allow you to play the way you like, with likeminded people, and be somewhat rewarded for doing so.
Secondly, I wanted to say that my goal is to allow people to play and enjoy FIFA in whatever way they choose. Obviously I'd like to give everyone everything they want but we don't have infinite resources here at EA and so decisions have to be made and priorities have to be set.
That manual players have been under supported in this goal is a point that I would agree with but I’d argue in our defense that they have been supported not wholly disproportionally to their size. From the data that I have available to me and based on my instincts and experience with FIFA gamers, manual is not a setting that most people want to, have the time to, or the skill to play. Now saying that I’d assume that you would counter with a statement around the fact that manual is not as popular because people don’t know about it. Again, I agree that we could do a better job of promoting the feature (as we could with so many features in FIFA, so I wouldn't feel too victimized about that) and potentially providing more reward/encouragement to try it - that is something that I will take on board and will look to address.
Fundamentally, up to this point we have been concentraing on trying to make the base gameplay experience of FIFA as strong as possible. After all, how good would playing a perfect through ball be in a FIFA world where gameplay is rubbish? Now, with FIFA10, some glitches aside, we are getting there and so I am now more willing to spend more of our time fixing/improving other areas of the game.
In response to those who think that we should be somehow pushing people to play manual - I'm afraid I don't agree with this. While I agree that manual is hugely rewarding experience, it is still something that many peole will never want to play (as mentioned above time, skill or desire) so I think it is wrong to try to drive them to play any other way than the way they want, and if we can try to build a game where there are features that allow you to play the way you want with likeminded people (e.g. manual leaderboards) then I don't see why we need to do that. In addition Manager Mode is still the most played game mode in FIFA, why should those people who are playing against the CPU, and therefore not impacting the playing experience of anyone else, be encouraged to play any other way than the way they want to?
Final point is on the progression of the controls, and the fact that as they get more skilled they should become more 'powerful'. I agree with this point from a theoretical POV but at the same time, given my points above, I am not sure that this is easy to do in a way that will not drastically limit the functionality/experience of a majority that I believe will never make it to manual. Again though, I fall back on - is it important that everyone plays the same controls? Let people play how they want, as long as they can do that with likeminded people (if they actually do want to play online).
Anyway, those are just a few of my thoughts. I'm not someone who's opposed to being proven wrong so feel free to try and change me on this but I think you have to remember that there are a lot of different types of people who play FIFA and this community forum does not represent all them and comes no-where near representing them proportionally.
Thanks for your feedback,