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News: Sports Management Games

The Next Big E-Sport?

30.06.2015 - Can sports management games become the next big e-sport? Sports management computer games have long been a great way for fans to fulfil their dream of leading their own professional sports club to glory by taking on the role of a team manager. The games have now become so popular that they are being tipped to become the next big e-sport.
E-sports are games that can be played in a multiplayer competitive format. There are a number of high profile e-sports such as StarCraft II, Dota 2, and Call of Duty where players battle in a tournament to decide the winner. However, it is now thought that sports management games have the potential to invade the e-sport market.

The best example right now is the Football Manager series developed by Sports Interactive and published by Sega. This football-based management simulation allows players to manage their favourite club and guide them through the seasons in an effort to win as many competitions within the game as possible. In January 2009, Sports Interactive launched its first online multiplayer management simulation in Football Manager Live. It had the concept of providing servers so players could manage teams against each other in a similar way that players in World of Warcraft can battle each other and interact. Unfortunately, the servers for Football Manager Live were shut down in May 2011 with the project being deemed unsuccessful.

Six years is a long time in the computer industry and it is now felt that a number of lessons have been learnt from the failure of Football Manager Live. The idea was very manageable. It was simply the delivery that did not hit the right note. Football Manager has offered the opportunity for players to take on their friends with LAN-organised games ever since the franchise was created from the split with Eidos Interactive back in 2004.

On 12th March, 2015, Sega and Sports Interactive released news regarding plans for the launch of Football Manager Online. Promoted as a brand new mass multiplayer online game it is expected to finish the job that Football Manager Live started by tapping into a more evolved online community that will attract more players with a number of new features to keep players involved. The fact that Football Manager's data is used by professional football clubs and played by professional players shows that it has the ideal platform for sports management computer games to launch onto the e-sports sector.

Football is not the only sport to enjoy success as a sports management computer game. The NHL Eastside Hockey League series was another Sports Interactive release that was initially launched back in 2005 after independent Finnish programmer Risto Remes allowed Sports Interactive to develop his freeware version further. The game was released to the mass market and showed how ice hockey could be used as a sport for a management simulation. After having its development halted in 2007, Sports Interactive confirmed on 26th March, 2015 that the series would be re-booted.

The launch of Football Manager Online by Sports Interactive gives the potential for the developer to look at a similar mass multiplayer online version of NHL Eastside Hockey League to be launched.

Ice hockey might not be considered to be one of the most popular sports but with the rise of online sports betting, there has also been an increase in attention being paid to what are widely considered the minority sports. Punters have the opportunity to bet on a large number of different sports including football, rugby, American football, baseball, cricket, ice hockey, basketball, tennis, and golf. This exposure to those sports through the channel of online sports betting is getting more people interested in the sports and online sports betting is now being used as a gateway to draw in new fans for the sport. This then has more people looking to get playing computer games online and offline associated with those sports.

There are a wealth of other sports management games that have been released on the market that could soon be making a big impact in the mass multiplayer online market to help sports management games become the next big e-sport. International Cricket Captain by Childish Things, World Basketball Manager by icehole, NFL Head Coach by EA Sports, and Pro Cycling Manager by Cyanide Studio show that there is a strong interest in sports management computer games. The question has to be asked, if shoot 'em up games and RPG titles can succeed as e-sports then surely sports-based computer games are only a matter of time away from becoming the next big e-sports?

As these games become more popular not only offline and online but on the mobile and social platforms then the answer has to be a resounding yes.