Why Football Manager Is The Future Of The Sports Game Genre

Although Football Manager has been around since the early 1990s, when it was known as Championship Manager, it’s continued success and unrivaled realism show where the sports game genre is heading. Off the back of a host of successful sports documentaries, such as Amazon’s All Or Nothing series, demand for Sports Interactive’s popular football management simulation has skyrocketed. These shows provide fans with a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes of an elite sports team, and that in turn has fueled a desire among sports game players for titles that allow them to take control of their own football club and unleash their inner Pep Guardiola.

Football Manager has continually grown in popularity, becoming something of a phenomenon. It recently reached the impressive benchmark of 600 million collective hours played on PC and Mac alone, not counting the millions of Football Manager players on console and mobile platforms. This increased interest represents a rising demand in gaming for a more challenging, immersive experience than that offered by rival titles, such as FIFA.

Related: Sega Is Being Sued By Manchester United Over Football Manager

These figures were shared by Football Manager director Miles Jacobson on Twitter, where it was also revealed the average player on PC and Mac has exceeded 300 hours of play time. Among the most-loved features are the ability to set up a scouting network to find hidden wonderkids, hire and fire club legends as members of the coaching staff and design, set pieces to exploit the weaknesses of opposing sides. These all add up to provide a sense of authenticity that FIFA is yet to match, making it one of the most realistic sports games on the market.

Unlike FIFA, for instance, Football Manager has a set difficulty, with players unable to just dial it back when they’re losing. Getting sacked by Tottenham despite being just three points off their target of top four, with a match in-hand – albeit after a North London derby drubbing at the hands of arch-rivals Arsenal – is a very real possibility. Crystal Palace might then make it two sackings for the season, despite being led from seven points adrift at the foot of the table to within a point of safety in 18th place – albeit the decision coming after yet another thrashing, courtesy this time of Watford. The world of football is cruel in real life and Football Manager can reflect that. If results dry up, ending up rebuilding in the Scottish Premiership at the helm of Dundee United just feels right.

F1 22‘s pointless features highlight F1 Manager 2022‘s similar strides in the world of motorsport, fueled by a wave of new fans flooding to the sport through Netflix’s Formula 1: Drive to Survive. In F1 22, it’s easy to mimick actual Formula One driver Lando Norris (and founder of YouTube channel Quadrant) by saying, “Luckily, there’s something called flashback” after a disastrous last-lap spin in-game. By contrast, in F1 Manager 2022, if Williams reserve driver Jack Aitken bins it into a wall in Practice One at Jeddah and then Nicholas Latifi produces a carbon copy of that incident in Practice Two – meaning two gearboxes are gone just two races into the 2022 F1 season, it’s just a case of getting on with it, through very gritted teeth.

Football Manager sets the gold standard for realism in a game that allows for micromanagement to the extreme. As a result, this sub-genre of sports gaming is experiencing mainstream growth like never before. With FIFA needing to introduce new features when it attempts to rival the soon-to-be EA Sports FC – unless it wants FIFA 24 to be doomed to fail – it would be well-advised to look to Football Manager for inspiration for the future of the sports game genre.

Author Profile

Scott Baber
Scott Baber
Senior Managing editor

Manages incoming enquiries and advertising. Based in London and very sporty. Worked news and sports desks in local paper after graduating.

Email Scott@MarkMeets.com

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