When it comes to Football management sims there is only one name that springs to mind, that of course being the not so slightly originally titled ‘Football Manager’. The game which started from humble beginnings more than 25 years ago has now become a digital juggernaut.
Originally produced by both the Domark and Eidos gaming studios its current name has been spawned from the ‘Championship Manager’ series that went before it. Back in the early 1990’s the world of Football management was a fiercely contested one.
NO MORE COMPETITION
There were also the likes of ‘Premier Manager’ or ‘Ultimate Soccer Manager’ that were playing for top spot in this particular league table. However, over time all of the rivals that tried to claim the championship eventually fell by the wayside.
This meant that ‘Football Manager’ became not only the dominant title in the genre, it became the only one. Which although they have undoubtedly earned the accolade of being the absolute best in their field it does perhaps mean that complacency has set in over the years.
In any walk of life, without someone or something pushing you to be better there is the tendency to drop off in effort and that can have a negative result in the end product that you put out. You could say that this is where life almost imitates art.
In terms of the more hands on approach to Football simulations, you have both FIFA and Pro Evolution Soccer pushing each other to be the best that they can be. Both EA and Konami know that one bad release will only see their fans defect to their rivals the following year.
At the same time imagine a top football club that has a star striker, one who has no competition for his place and knows that bar injury he will be starting week in and week out. That scenario means that there is no incentive to improve.
POLITICS AND FOOTBALL
The same that could well be said about ‘Football Manager’, the makers of the game know that they have a captive audience who are ready to part with their cash once more when a new season comes around in an attempt to win the Football Champion Cup
And bar a few visual tweaks there has not been many changes to the game over the past few years, one could also argue though that they have perhaps made as many tweaks as they possibly can over the past quarter of a century and there is nothing left for it to evolve.
That is why there is a worry that the game is getting more and more gimmicky, you only have to look back at the addition of ‘Brexit’ mode in FM18 to see how this decision went down like a proverbial own goal.
It for many was perhaps a step too far, as the world of on-pitch simulation was now taken over by a theoretical mode of gameplay. Obviously bar a late change in government strategy there will be no avoiding Brexit.
However, no-one knows what the departure from the European Union is going to look like. Therefore, to add in a random element to the game such as this, is one that was not welcomed by the legion of FM fans.
LICENSE TO THRILL
That said there is an easy way to keep their fans onside, and that will be to remove the mode for the upcoming FM19 release. No actual details on the game have been released as of yet, with the big reveal set to take place in late September.
Although there has been a layer of secrecy as to what new additions have or have not made the game this season, one thing that has been released to the masses is the news that the Bundesliga license has finally been signed.
This has been a long running issue for the makers of ‘Football Manager’ as the German F.A. have refused to license their players for the game. Therefore, in days gone by instead of having Jens Lehmann in goal, you had to make do with Jens Mustermann.
Thankfully this is now a thing of the past as all German clubs and players are fully licensed. But apart from mopping up whatever remaining licenses there are still to be secured, there’s not a lot else they can do.
Maybe one could argue that they have been too busy adding teams and leagues to the product that they have forgot about the product themselves. At the same time though, there is a feeling that the makers of the game have also come to this realisation.
This season’s creation sees a new logo and a retirement of the manager icon that has been a staple in the game’s design for nearly two decades. Therefore, FM19 does give players the hope that they are embarking on a new era.
THE FINAL FRONTIER
But what other frontiers are there left for them to conquer. One obvious direction would be the introduction of Women’s Football to the game. Instead of trying to conquer the Premier League with Manchester City then why not be able to manage their female counterparts instead?
This would mean implementing a parallel universe as obviously the two worlds of male and female football are not ones that have overlap, or perhaps at the start of the game you select what gender of the game you want to start your career in.
This is an idea that will probably come around too quick for FM19, but with the female of the species getting more and more mainstream attention when it comes to the beautiful game it must only be a matter of time before it is included.
‘Football Manager’ has easily earned the mantle of not only being the best in its field, but also one of the best ever PC games of all time. However, with anything that has been running for over 25 years the signs of fatigue are starting to creep in.
The diversification into mobile platforms has given the brand something of an energy boost in the last couple of seasons, now they just need to make sure that their main effort sees a return to form. Something we will discover in the not too distant future.