Football Manager is one of the most popular sports management video games ever created. With annual releases since 2005, it has become a profitable franchise—Football Manager 2019 sold over 2 million copies in an 8-month period. This is partly down to it being accessible and available on many platforms, including a recent release on the Nintendo Switch.
The success of Football Manager has led to the sports management genre being extended to other sports. These other titles have had mixed success, although they often have a small, but loyal, fanbase. Here is a look at some of these other games.
NFL Head Coach
Most NFL fans are familiar with EA’s Madden franchise, which provides players with a new American football game each year. However, EA also released a game called NFL Head Coach in 2006. The game let the player take on the role of head coach, allowing them to make changes to the team’s roster, create a playbook and recruit and sack assistant coaches. Players could choose which of the 32 teams in the NFL they wanted to take control of, provided that they pass the job interview.
Players could then direct their team over the course of the season and, just like in real life, progress towards the biggest football event—the Super Bowl. This game is the ultimate goal for all NFL teams, both inside and outside of the game; around 100 million people tune in to watch, with many placing bets on the game regarding outcomes like halftime scores, props, or outright win. NFL Head Coach treated the Super Bowl with just as much prestige as the real-life NFL.
In May 2019, Hutch Games released an officially-licensed game titled F1 Manager for iOS and Android. It includes all teams, drivers, and tracks from the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship season, and it is free to play.
Players are required to build their team, oversee the development of their car, and choose a strategy for each race. They must then follow the race to see how it unfolds and make decisions like when to pit and which tyres to use.
This is not the first F1 Manager game, though—in 2000 EA Sports released a game of the same name for PC. It worked in a similar way and required teams to test their cars to get the most performance out of them in between race weekends. Players would control their drivers while on the track by advising them on an aggression level, ranging from being very conservative (by making sure they got their cars to the end of the race) to “risking everything” (where setting fast lap times was all that mattered).
Unlike other sports, the NBA 2K games come with a management mode included. This sets it apart from other sports games, which generally separate the genres. The MyGM feature lets players build their team and lead it to success on the court. Since NBA 2K 18, the MyGM feature has been “story-based”, adding a new element that adds more depth to the mode.
The MyGM mode is very detailed. When the player has picked a team, he or she will have a face-to-face meeting with the team’s owner to outline the goals for the upcoming season. For players wanting to maximise the simulation experience, the game offers a lot of decisions to make and settings to change. However, for players who find this difficult or intimidating, they can choose to automate some of this for them as they proceed through the 82-game season.
eSports have grown rapidly in popularity and size in recent years, with major sports leagues like the NBA, MLB and Formula 1 investing directly in eSports. It, therefore, shouldn’t be much of a surprise that an eSports management game was released.
Available on Steam and Nintendo Switch, eSport Manager has two modes—one for a first-person-shooter (FPS) league and one for a multi-online-battle-arena (MOBA) game. The player must then manage their team members by directing their sleep patterns and fitness levels, as well as handling sponsorship deals.
It is not as advanced as some of the other titles listed here, and the AI you are against can be easy to defeat. That said, it’s a novel idea that shows some potential for growth.
While Football Manager is the clear leader in sports management games, there are also others out there for when you want to have a change.