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The Evolution of Football Management Games from ZX80 to Playstation

The Evolution of Football Management Games from ZX80 to Playstation

You're not a true Football Manager series addict if you're not aware of the game's creation and evolution. Here's an article to teach you all about it. 


For decades, the video games industry has tried to produce realistic feeling football games and the sport has been a popular subject for games developers to use. Back in the golden age of video games arcades and 8-bit home computers, nearly 20 titles were released over a ten-year period.

However, this figure has since been dwarfed as football games have featured on home computers such as the Commodore Amiga, and Atari ST then consoles from Nintendo, Atari, Microsoft, and Sony. When you consider that there are around 3.5 billion football fans on the planet, and there are also an estimated 2.8 billion video game fans, it is perhaps not surprising that there is such a big market.

One interesting spin-off from all the football games is the management genre. As you are no doubt aware, Football Manager 2021 is proving to be the most popular game in the series and achieved 1 million sales in record time. However, the game owes a debt to a number of titles that came before it.
 

The explosion of management games


Football management games began to grab players’ interest way back in the early days of home computers. Now the management game genre has been used in all manner of settings.

Nowadays there are management games for a seemingly endless list of options. Want to be a dictator? Then play Tropico. Want to run a hospital? You’ll find more than one option for this.

Management games allow players to become in charge of theme parks, the police, countries, people, and even Mars. There are multiple options for anyone who wants to run a casino and kit out the gaming floor with popular options such as slots, or poker tables. Sim Casino, Casino Inc., and Vegas: Make it Big, allow the player to delve into the management and business side of the gaming industry.

But, it is football management games that have really caught on as far as video and computer games are concerned.
 

Where did football management games come from?


Any fan of these types of games has a certain Kevin Toms from England to thank. Many boys, and girls, dream of being professional football players when they grow up, but for Kevin Toms, it seems management was all he had in mind.

When Toms was only 10 years old he designed his first football management game. This was realised as a board game and over the years he tinkered with parts of it until later on when he became a computer programmer he had a eureka moment. After he got his hands on a clone of the Tandy TRS-80 he produced a text-only management game that ran on the ZX80 and the ZX81.

Kevin Toms - Football Manager

Once the ZX Spectrum hit the streets, Toms released a version that came with colour graphics, which was the start of the football management evolution. The game was released on a variety of home computers through Toms’ own label, Addictive Games.

The name may have been fortuitous because Football Manager spent 3 years at the top of the games charts and it was claimed to have sold a million copies by some sources.

How did football management games evolve?


Football Manager itself spawned two direct sequels and a World Cup edition which all built on and improved the original game’s ideas. As computing power and technology developed, many other game developers saw the potential in releasing their own versions. One of these was called Championship Manager.

Two brothers, the Collyers, started writing Championship Manager in their bedroom in England back in the early nineties. This would seem incredible now when you consider the size of the teams involved in modern-day games production. Back then, homemade games were still quite common and Championship Manager was released in 1992.

Paul Edward Collyer and Oliver Charles Collyer
Paul Edward Collyer and Oliver Charles Collyer

When the second version was released in the mid-’90s, the game had secured the title of best football management game with a legion of fans. Now you can get the game for free, at least an older version. Championship Manager 2001/02 was made free and legally available to download in 2009.

Eidos later split from the Collyer’s company, Interactive, and have since left desktops alone and now concentrate on mobile games.

What is the current state of football management games?


With the advent of mobile devices and their popularity, it is perhaps not that shocking to find out there are a number of management games available as apps.

Football Manager Mobile 2021, Soccer Manager 2020, and for retro fans; Kevin Toms’ Football * Manager are all available and being actively played.

When it comes to the stand-out game today, it has to be Football Manager 2021. The level of detail in the current game includes the player needing to know how to find the best director of football and factors even include whether they speak your local language. No football management game has ever been so sophisticated.

Football Manager 2021 also comes on a wide variety of platforms including consoles, handheld systems, desktop computers, and smartphones and mobile devices.

As for Kevin Toms, arguably the Godfather of football management games. He continued his passion and after moving down-under, he wrote New Zealand Championship Football Manager. He now lives in the Netherlands and can be found on Twitter posting tweets about his famous game regularly.
 

Summary


Who knew that the original ZX81 black and white home computer would have a game released on it that would create a whole new genre? Before Football Manager back in 1982, there were no similar games available.

Not only did it spawn a host of rivals, but the genre also evolved into other areas such as survival, hospital management, and casinos. Who would have thought the Sims would enjoy casinos and betting? The football management game itself has become far more sophisticated and graphically advanced than any player back in the ’80s would have dared dreamt.

As the sport itself is the most popular game on the planet and video games’ popularity is only growing, there appears to be a very bright future for the Football Manager series and other similar games. Whether Kevin Toms will release another version remains to be seen though.

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FM BLOG: The Evolution of Football Management Games from ZX80 to Playstation
The Evolution of Football Management Games from ZX80 to Playstation
You're not a true Football Manager addict if you're not aware of the game's creation and evolution. Here's an article to teach you all about it.
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