Although numerous, this Football Manager (Worldwide Soccer Manager) series stands out from the crowd for the infamous and devastating effect it had on the social life of people who played it, or rather who are addicted to it. When I put it like that it seems as it could look too exaggerated to the uninitiated, but it is actually quite true. This game is notorious for ruining people’s careers and even marriages, all because of that ‘…one more match…’
Okay, we must be frank here, there are probably multiple games who have done the same to people’s lives, or rather people who have allowed themselves to be completely consumed by the game’s addictive allure, so I decided to do the math and see just how deep does the rabbit hole goes.
26 years ago…
Worldwide soccer manager was released in 2004, and has since grown into a series of football management simulation video games, all developed by Sports Interactive and published by Sega.
If you are having trouble differentiating this game from the old Championship Manager, it is because it was the same game at first (from 1992), but these two conglomerates broke the partnership with the original publishers, Eidos Interactive, and went to develop their own version.
Their latest Football Manager release is from November 2017.
So, this 26-year long career started back in 1992, but it was at the beginning of 2004 when it was announced that Sports Interactive, who developed the Championship Manager, were parting ways from Eidos Interactive and that they could keep their source code for the game, but not the original title. Since both sides were left without their respective partner, Sports Interactive had to find a new publisher, and the partnership with Sega was formed in 2006, a year after they’ve released their first title of the series, Football Manager 2005 (FM 2005).
It was a direct competitor to the Championship Manager 5 from their former partners, Eidos, but it featured an improved user interface, database, competition rules, and a refined game engine. It also had pre and post-match info, cup summary news, international player news, coach reports on squads, a 2D match engine, mutual contract termination, an enhanced player loan option, manager ‘mind games’, and plenty of other stuff true fans of the game really appreciate.
Needless to say, it was more praised by the fans than its counterpart.
Sports Interactive was quite vigilant when it comes to conquering other platforms, and so, by the middle of 2006 they have already ported their Football manager 2006 for Xbox 360, and have thus made the first home console Football Manager edition. It featured 50 playable league systems and a 250 thousand strong player database, which are figures very close to the PC version. It also utilized the Xbox Live functionality, and players were able to play online, creating leagues and cups with up to 16 human players. It supported voice chat and was far more advanced than any other manager game in that particular moment.
3D matches came shortly as well as a handheld version, in 2010, for PlayStation Portable, and after then it was fully ported for mobile. The constant cutting edge improvements and adaptations Sports Interactive made, earned this Football Manager series the place at the top of sports managing games, but it also earned them the notorious reputation for ruining people’s lives.
Football Manager Influence
The game’s addictive nature, in all honesty, is largely made possible precisely due to its incredibly detailed and wide player database. It has been recognized by real-life football clubs and managers as a valid tool used for scouting players. Everton even signed a deal with Sports Interactive, allowing them to use the game’s database for scouting the opposition.
A journalism graduate made a video documentary about the game, called Football Manager: More Than Just A Game, in 2010. Another documentary entitled An Alternative Reality: Football Manager was also released in 2014.
Football Manager was even a subject of sociological studies, and it was determined that the football culture was essential in this game’s success, but also players who played it seemed to build their entire sporting identity by playing it.
The game was better than the competition in every way, no doubt about it, and the nature of football and sports gaming crowds did the rest.
Football Manager is now even called the world’s most loved sports game, while more and more news about the effects of its addiction emerges.
Just one more match…
It is part of the public knowledge that the singing superstar Robbie Williams, for instance, is a massive fan of the game and he even stated that he always signs Steven Fletcher, Scotland striker, whenever he plays.
David Moyes, the manager of Everton, admits to using Football Manager in his job, and back in 2012, a student from Azerbaijan by the name Vugar Huseynzade was so successful in the game that FC Baku hired him to be the manager for the team’s reserves.
There is even the ‘legend of Cherno Samba’, as I came to call it, or rather an urban myth. I am naturally talking about a real-life player Cherno Samba, who became a superstar via the game, because as a virtual player he quickly went from a prodigal player in Millwall to a top-level goalscoring machine. Everyone who plays the game knows that he is a guaranteed 25-goals-per-season striker. In real life, he is barely recognized on the street, and journalists even made interviews with him.
The game has officially been cited as a direct reason in over a couple hundred divorces, though the real figures are much higher.
The latest Football Manager’s edition (2017) development was helped by roughly 1300 real football scouts, and where once was only a pool of 4000 players now lies an Ocean of over 700,000. The information monitored in the game is frightening, as the players work rate, acceleration, place of birth, and even movie preferences are being noted among other things.
This blurring line between real life and this Football Manager game is what makes it so appealing for professionals, but I think there is also a sort of an RPG feeling to it. You purchase young players, you develop them (level them up), increase their stats, and reap the rewards of success. I think this game targets that addictive side of every gamer. The hunger for progress, growth, expansion, and watching their meticulously planned tactics come to fruition and success.