To many, Football Manager is a bland, strategy-football game, but to a sizeable community, it is so much more. The game began in 1992 under the name Championship Manager, developed by brothers Paul and Oliver Collyer from their bedroom. It wasn’t until 2003 that the brothers, due to a publishing split, re-branded the game to Football Manager. The game has had yearly releases now for well over 25 years, selling over 1 million copies worldwide for 5 consecutive years. The dedication of the fan-base can be seen in the fact that the games have had an average of 35,000 concurrent players over the past 2 years and the latest edition has been watched for over 2-million hours on streaming platform Twitch since its release. It is not the size of the fan-base which is to be found so amazing, but instead the fact that once people begin, they always return. YouTube, Twitch, Reddit and podcasts. No corner of the internet is without a tight-knit community surrounding this game.
Beyond the screen, the game has had a sizeable influence on the real world, in a way that games such as FIFA and Pro Evolution Soccer never has, will, or even could. In 2008, Everton FC signed a deal with the developers so that they had full access to the database in order to use it as a means to recruit new players. In a multi-billion-euro industry that is football, for one of the largest companies in that market to trust a Video Game is a phenomenal achievement. While this may seem rather odd to people who are unfamiliar with the game, there is a network of 1,300 ‘Scouts’ based in 51 countries world-wide who provide the data needed for this game to function. This is not just a game, as has been said, it is a vibrant community of football fans, professionals and players. Within the game, there are over 300,000 players documented in depth with tens of detailed facts, such as birth place, and statistics to reflect their respective standing in the world of football. The game has been the subject of studies regarding crowd-sourcing due to the sheer mass of volunteers who co-construct the game’s database.
Many others have made a living from this game, through rather more conventional means, such as content creators Loki Doki or Doctor Benji. Loki, for example, is currently in the process of buying his first home thanks to his own hard work and his fans who support him with their views, subscriptions and donations. For Kevin Chapman, aka lollujo, the support of his fans through the playing of this game has allowed him to leave his job as a teacher in order to give his son better support at home. In recent months many stories have been reported of various streamers making a fortune on the latest AAA game, but in the instance of Football Manager, the creators seem to be making a living as it becomes their full-time job. With their relatively modest channel sizes, once again, it is through the tight-knit and dedicated community that this is even possible. There is no rivalry between creators, instead it is a rather symbiotic relationship where creators promote and help each other, rather than attempt to claim that the other is irrelevant and challenge them to a boxing match. In a modern world of diss-tracks, call-outs and literal fighting, it must be said that it is rather refreshing that any community in gaming can survive, or even thrive, solely from kindness and friendship.
It is through two brothers that this game began, and through the family-dynamic of the community who continue to play, create or support that this game is made. Without the 1,300 scouts around the world, there would be no game. Without the dedicated players, who support content creators to the point that they can make a living, there would be no game. Without this family, there would be no game. Football Manager truly is, more than a game.
Football Manager 2019 is scheduled for release on November 2nd 2018.