Video games are big business, with every hobby, interest and niche covered by titles and releases aimed at hooking players.
The video game market is worth around $159bn, according to Games Industry Biz, making it lucrative and expansive. Some titles are console hits, with huge budgets and worldwide reach, whilst others drop on mobile devices and tablets looking to fulfil a different niche. The absolute best tend to have one thing in common these days – offering the chance to play online.
That is especially the case with football games, which have always been better with more than a single player. Kick Off 2, Sensible Soccer, Pro Evo – they all became big hits on standalone consoles for their competitive edge and how they pit friends against each other in frantic and exciting battles. As technology has advanced, players can now compete with anyone around the world, and not just in actual match action. We have selected four different genres of the beautiful game currently delighting football fans online.
The actual game simulation was always the biggest draw, right back to 8-bit machines, and the market is now minimal, but no less competitive. There are two big-hitters for gamers to choose from, the behemoth that is the FIFA franchise, and the pretender to the crown, eFootball PES 2020. The latter tends to be preferred by the purists, but FIFA remains the top title due to the depth of the licenses and their lucrative Ultimate Team mode, which generates $1.49bn in revenue for EA Sports.
Football fans are not just after the intense match action. Some like the other side of the game, the statistics, the players and tactics. They are the supporters who prefer to understand how a team is constructed and to test themselves against other masters of the craft. The best title for fans who prefer numbers and percentages in Football Manager 21, which was recently released on PC. Football Manager dates back to the early eighties when Kevin Toms programmed a version for the ZX 80, amongst other machines, but the current incarnation is heavily linked to developer Domark’s Championship Manager series from the early nineties.
Football can be represented in games that do not relate to the real world but instead draw from the general themes to give a fan an alternative experience. This is particularly evident in the online slot world, where games can often be varied to attract a range of different players depending on their real-life interests. This is the case with online provider TuxSlots, who have two titles in the form of Football Champions Cup and Football Star, which both use typical images from the game without drawing directly from its rules, gameplay or wider world. These titles do not offer the gamer the chance to take part in match action, but instead, take their interest and move it into a different direction. For a fan with football on the brain, they can be a welcome distraction from the game itself, without straying too far from their core interests.
Which football fan dreams of stepping up to be a club chairman? Very few probably, but for those that do, the online gaming world has delivered in abundance. Owning a football club might be out of reach of the average man or woman, but with releases such as Football Tycoon, you can do just that. The original dropped way back in 2009 but has since been followed by mobile games such as Football Chairman which puts you in control of commercial decisions and financial responsibilities.