Tobold's Blog
Thursday, July 03, 2008
Football Manager Live

I'm in the beta for Football Manager Live, and as there is no NDA and the game is supposed to come out this summer (published by SEGA), I'd like to tell you about it. First of all a warning: This is a football (soccer, not the US version) manager game. If you expect lots of action or beautiful graphics, you're in the wrong genre here. The fanciest graphics you'll see in FML are a bunch of dots running over a 2D football field. Lots of the gameplay has you poring over stats, with all the graphical charm of an Excel spreadsheet.

So why would anybody play something like this? Because the first football league was founded in 1888, now they have 120 years of experience in how to make balanced and fun PvP, and FML is using the best of this experience to make their player versus player game balanced and fun. Not playing often? Playing rather badly? No problem, you'll end up in a league with people like you, and will still have fun in games where you actually have an even chance to win.

The developers, Sports Interactive, have a series of single-player games called Football Manager 2008 (2007, 2006, etc.), so they drew on a huge database of real-world football players' stats. You start out with a limited budget, so even if you know the best players, you can't simply grab them early, because you can't afford them. Instead you'll have to make do with lesser players, build up a team, determine tactics, join a league, and play lots of friendly and league games. The fun is when you see how your decisions made a difference. If you after long consideration finally decided to spend a bigger bundle of money for a new forward center and he shoots two goals in the next match, it is great joy. There is still luck involved, and you can't do all that much to influence a match, but you can change tactics or substitute players and hope that helps. Even if you're not a big fan or expert of football (and I'm not) you can have great fun in Football Manager Live.

There are around 1,000 players per server, in many different leagues, and bidding for the same pool of real-world players. The game has elements of fantasy football, an EBay-like auction system, a football manager game, and role-playing elements where you increase the stats of your manager. And of course with many people online at the same time in the same game, you can chat, make friends, or discuss strategy.

League systems in other games have often failed due to the difficulty of getting players online at the same time to play their league games. FML solves this elegantly by giving you a number of days to find your opponents, after which the match can be done in the absence of one or both players, just using their standard team setup and tactics to determine the outcome. But it also tries to get people to be able to play a maximum of matches with both players online, by grouping them into leagues based on preferred playing time. So you'll state at what times you're most likely to be able to play, and the game finds a league for you with people with similar preferences.

Right now the game is in stress test beta. That can be annoying, because the devs deliberately overload the servers, so you have bad lag, or the server crashing just when you were about to win a match. But this is because they put 4 gameworlds on one server, which they won't do in the release version. I'm already having lots of fun, and I'm considering paying a couple of months for the release version when it comes out (the game will be free to download). Might be just the thing while waiting for WAR and WotLK. But as I said, I don't recommend it for everybody. But if you ever played and liked a football manager single-player game, FML is well worth checking out.
Sounds surprisingly attractive... and I *hate* football! Believe me, you are not the only person looking for a more strategy-oriented MMO. I wouldn't mind just a bit of pew-pew but; perhaps they can add a football hooligan riot scenario somewhere ;-)
Hmm, I have tried these types of games before and I am interested in your recommendation that even if you don't like football you can enjoy it, wouldn't a better recommendation to say be 'even if you don't like excel spreadsheets you will still enjoy it'

I think after you said that it much resembled spreadsheets I'm sure many a businessman crossed it off his 'games to get' list at the thought of a game focused around their worst working nightmares!
Im the one who got Tobold into the game.

I agree its very much a spreadsheet and blobs on a pitch but in some weird manner the players transcend just being numbers and start having personalities. You just add imagination, which will beat any graphics or game engine any day - just watch the fifa games for awhile and youll see that 3d isnt all its cracked up to be...

The game can be horribly frustrating and I agree its definately NOT for everyone. It will really help if you have experience from the Football Manager series (which happens to top the best selling lists almost every year.)

also I recommend SI as a company. They have always gone out of their way to be present on forums, answer questions, listen to suggestions and all that. They basically come off as being blokes you´d want to watch football and drink beer with!

If you want an idea on how it works, go download a demo of one of the FM offline games from
Having always thought a FM online game would be awesome I am now really excited about an upcoming mmo for the first time since wow! I had no idea this game was coming out!
Football Manager series are one of the most addictive games in the world. They always stay on top of UK's video game sales for weeks.

Combine the addictive nature of MMOs with an already addictive game, can this beat coke?
Lol, Tobold, you've sucked me in with your writing... cannot... resist... taunt...

So if the first football league was formed in 1888, and this means good PvP... what does that mean about warfare (and good pvp), which has probably existed ever since the first man started to use tools and walk upright.
I don't think warfare has been designed with balance and fun in mind. :)
Tobold said, "I don't think warfare has been designed with balance and fun in mind. :)"

That's pure win, right there :D

@ Chappo, you'd be suprised at the lengths people will go to for a 'leisure' activity. Look at how much effort people put into Raiding, and Min/Maxing of their characters & gear. How much they research Instances, Bosses & strategies before tackling them.

You could have someone who works with spreadsheets all day go home in the evening and devour his newspapers & sports magazines for the littlest tidbit of information on his football team and his players, meticulously keeping track of every single deviant in a very complex, very detailed spreadsheet. Despite it looking exactly like what he does at work, he's having fun, because one is work and one is his hobby.
LOL! Very true...
I have friends that don't ever play videogames but are capable of 12 hour long streches of Football Manager.

"But this is not a videogame, this is FOOTBALL!" is the answer i get.

It's going to be a massive hit at least in Europe I think.
Judging from the participants of the beta, and of posters on the msgboards, its going to be absolutely huge in Asia as well. in game world 8 the top 2 are both Chinese.

European teams have spent tons of money on PR in the east and football is o the rise there...pvp mmos are right up their alley
This game sounds remarkably familiar to an online game i played religiously for ages until i started World of Warcraft
It doesn't have the 'real life' aspect that Football Manager has (ie you get your OWN players with their own skills. No buying Ronaldo because he is the best player. you Train up your own Fili Barnett or David Callow to be the star) but it is quite awesome.

Matches are played text based on the web. Highly recommend it
yeah im in the beta now. its fun. i got a bit owned with my first team tho, need to re-think some of my squad :p
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