Online Football Management Game - Soccer-Manager

  • Release date: November 2005 (Updated regularly)
  • Platform: Browser game - anyone can play with no special software required.
  • Our rating: 90%
online football management game

The tagline on the homepage for Soccer-Manager says it all: soccer isn't just a sport; it is a way of life. This MMORPG imposes itself as that way of life for the player. It presents itself as a bespoke football management game. However, once you are involved, it becomes much more than that. It is an outlet to satisfy your desire to have total control over a football club. It is more than simply choosing a line-up on the match day. It is an addiction where winning breeds more winning, and losing releases an urge to do everything to become a winner. It is a process where winning demands all-round acumen. And victory is more than an empty sentiment. It is more than a pretty flashing browser message stating "League Champion". Get to the very top and you win actual cash prizes. Never has there been a greater incentive for leading a virtual team of football superstars to the greatest prize of all: the World Cup. In this guide, we will explore why Soccer-Manager has thousands of members logging on every day to indulge their football fantasy in what is the ultimate online football management.

Soccer Manager First Impressions

How much could a point-and-click browser-based game offer? These types of turn-based sports management games are scattered all over the internet, with varying degrees of quality. There is every indication that Soccer-Manager is aiming to be at the top end of that spectrum as you arrive at the polished homepage. You are greeted by unassuming graphics clearly specifying the genre of the game you are about to play. A quick sign-up process later and the bright red "Play Now" button is duly clicked.

The subsequent console screen is comprehensive yet not to over the top. Simple pictures correspond to the various main options in a thumbnail menu across the top. The rest of the team affairs are split up into summary sections such as the clubs financial information, user information (such as team name, account credits and user ID) and scheduled games. A large clipboard in the middle acts as a tips and tricks section, which you should always pay attention to, especially if you are new to the game. Straight away, this is a good section to see and its location emphasises an eagerness to ease beginners into the Soccer-Manager world.

The message and buddy list sections point to a degree of interaction with other managers. This is important for MMORPG players, who consider the social aspect to be essential to their gaming experience. This is further supplemented by link buttons, which lead to a detailed game instruction page and the player forum.

League tables and statistics are also clearly displayed in the main console. The plethora of options already on display indicates the depth of the game at hand.

Gameplay

Hovering over the various menu titles, you almost forget that you are looking at an internet browser football management game and not playing a windowed version, which is something all of these games try to accomplish but few ever come close. Like the more mainstream games, the game's visuals are not paramount to the experience and certainly do not detract from the sum of all other features. The emboldened white-coloured headings demonstrate the range of decisions to be made. Office administration, team coaching, staff hiring and management of additional club income all form the remit of the Soccer-Manager. However, clearly this game has refused to follow in the footsteps of some of the other games in its genre.

online football management game - soccer manager

This game runs in its own world, and certain features separate it from other online football management games. You can see that the makers do not want to have too many players monopolising the best teams and line-ups. These occurrences in rival games have the common effect of driving the losing customers away. These frustrated managers often give up in sheer frustration at the lack of opportunities to improve. However, you get the feeling that this does not occur in this world. Here's a rundown of Soccer-Manager's unique functions:

Office

The usual suspects of handling the clubs' finances and the transfer market can be found here. Newer, more interesting aspects such as a stock market and club merchandising are worth a look. The stock market features team shares and offers managers the opportunity to generate additional income. Not particularly resembling any real-life feature of soccer clubs, this option instils a more business-like approach towards running the team. The club merchandising menu gives clubs another chance to earn extra revenue with the building of a merchandise production line. With three different levels on three different facades, obviously the bigger the warehouse (which cannot be smaller than the factories and sales departments) the increased amount of profit available. Staff hiring is also actioned in this section, whereby recruiting important backroom staff can simplify your whole management process, which is always a benefit, especially to new players.

Pro and Youth Menus

Soccer-Manager has both senior and junior squads to be operated by each club. The general running of both squads is the same. Where they differ is in club income and player experience generated from the match results. Matches are played every day at different times for the two squads. Line-ups must be submitted along with team instructions and strategy, or else a match will be forfeited. For added realism, players at the club have "value-in-position" ratings alongside their regular attributes, dictating how well a player can play out of position. Morale, experience and motivation also affect performance.

Seasons lasting 26 matches are played over the course of a month, and the top three teams gain club prize money, to be spent on improving the squad next season. Live match feeds can be viewed during the times of the matches, encouraging a face-to-face competitiveness between managers, which is something that is not found in other games of this type, and adds an additional element of excitement.

As well as the matches, detailed training schedules need to be designed, down to the times of sessions during the day. A hands-on approach is encouraged by the training system and player progress can be monitored by clear indicators.

Ranking

This is a self-explanatory section detailing league standings and team statistics. This area is obviously an important area for those with their eyes on the prize!

World Cup

This can almost be seen like the Champions League and the competition where the cash prizes are won. Qualification for this competition is obtained through performances in the Pro league standings. The winner will receive a cash pay-out of ?,000, runner-up ?00, third-placed ?50 and the fourth-placed manager will be rewarded with a 12-month premium membership. If a team manages to win the World Cup without conceding a goal, then you will pick up a huge ?0,000. This is clearly the ultimate end for good performance and incentive to play as regularly as possible. After all, bragging rights will never trump the pleasure of winning cold hard cash on a free football game.

Clan

In simple terms, this is a function to operate friend's leagues in addition to the regular season matches. Clan founders can choose to operate the leagues by options of their choice. These options range from charging entry fees and allocation of prize money. Once again, this is another feature which encourages interaction and community.

Team

The team menu deals with the administration of player contracts and this is fundamental to maintaining a presence in the Soccer-Manager world. Having a minimum number of contracted players is a condition to keeping your team active, as well as several financial stipulations. This section also allows players to set up training camps to improve player attributes in addition to the routine training schedules. Motivational talks help to maintain player morale, which affects performance. Your stadium and upgrades to it are also managed in this section, which contributes to whether a manager can request talent headhunting and attracting quality players.

Profile

This menu is mainly for overall account administration and settings. There is also an opportunity for managers to further personalise their Bigpoint experience by creating a homepage banner.

Paying for Success

As with any online game, soccer manager offers several options for managers to increase their chances of success with real-world money. Premium membership, which can be purchased at ?0 for six months and ?0 for a full year, has features to help managers with the running of their club. Backroom staff by default, guarantee of team presence even if the aforementioned end-of-season criteria are not met, and auto-selection of line-ups by an appointed assistant go some way towards ensuring a paying manager has the best chance of winning soccer games.

Further personalisation options are available with premium membership, allowing managers to upload team logos and player photos, as well as changing player names. From looking at some of the team names (changed from made-up monikers to real-life German league teams) the premium membership seems to be a popular buy. Paying members can also have a limited number of match results to be sent to them by text message, a feature which some may find helpful if they are on the move and have a big game coming up.

Additional paying options allow players to purchase game credits, which can be used to improve player attributes. However, this is a limited function, further focussing on fair play, and not the person that can afford the best team tries to buy it like Manchester City and Chelsea!

Verdict

Existing in its own unique game structure while possessing features which keeps it true to the most enjoyable aspects of football management titles, Soccer-Manager has much to offer to the dedicated MMORPG player. Depth in abundance fulfils detail-tinkering characters and sufficient check functions aim to maximise pleasure while reducing pain of defeat. A clear strategy based on community and interaction show that this online football management game understands what makes a great online experience. And simple services such as the text results service and a tips section encourages managers to really think about their actions in the game and to truly apply Soccer-Manager as a way of life.

Game Ratings (Out of 10)

Graphics - 7/10

As mentioned before, visuals are not a determining factor in the overall quality of this game. However, where graphics are applied, you are not left feeling short-changed. Appropriate use of thumbnails and a polished user interface design gives this game a very smooth optical experience.

Playability - 9/10

Although the unique setup does not ally Soccer-Manager to complete realism in terms of matching competitions and gameplay to real-life, there is an affable and charming value in what you do get. Training players does what it is supposed to do and other features such as merchandising offer a refreshing take on what you may expect.

Originality - 10/10

Originality has been implied throughout this review. Although, in essence, it is still a soccer management sim, unique application of features means that any score apart from 10 out of 10 would not do justice to this game.

Game Depth - 10/10

Once again, emphasis must be placed on the unique features of this game. Such is the variety of options and personalisation available; a manager can only blame themselves if they do not get desirable results on the soccer field.

Addictiveness - 9/10

As with any engrossing soccer management sim, there is an implicit longevity. If you win the biggest prizes, you will go on to try and retain those prizes next season and build a lasting dynasty. If you lose, you are only spurred on to set things right.

Value for Money - Depends

If you choose to play the game without paying any additional sums of money then the game is much harder, but in terms of value for money the game has to get a 10/10 because it is free. On the other hand, buying additional 'upgrades' for cash makes the game easier, but also starts to make it a bit pricy. Having said that, buying upgrades also gives you the chance to win big cash prizes so if you think you are a skilled football manager you could be in with a shout to win good money. Free play or with extras, it's up to you, but both routes can be rewarding.

Overall - 90%

Soccer-Manager proves itself to be a top-class offering that the developers will be more than happy with. It combines all the plus points of the better-known contemporaries while lacing it with their own identity and character. Simply put, if you put this game in front of somebody without telling them whether it was a browser based or an actual PC game, they would find it hard to tell you the difference, and this is a quality which all online games look for, but few ever deliver.

MG Soccer Manager Game has discontinued it's service. For a great football management game please check out Sport's Interactives Football Manager or more browser football manager games below: