Oct 16

Starting In Older Gameworlds Is Easier – I’ll Tell You Why


I started my obsession with Football Manager Live in March 2008 when I entered a beta world that was already five months old. Ever since then, I have been privy to watching hundreds, if not thousands of new managers enter an established FML game world. A few of these entries were able to rise quickly up the ranks over a course of 2-3 months, but many think this is the exception, not the rule.

“Of course it’s much more difficult to succeed when everyone has a time advantage over you!” is a quote echoed on the official forums quite often. This sentiment is also the primary reason why old game worlds are not very attractive to new subscribers. In a recent thread on Los Wonderkids (by the way, it’s a great community for Football Manager 2010 banter), you can see this negative perception towards established game worlds through the eyes of Fantastic on the core point of why he quit playing Football Manager Live:

“Starting in an existing, established, gameworld, it’s plain to see that it will be nigh on impossible to reap any rewards, no matter how much effort I put in. That’s why new gameworlds are full and older ones are empty. It’s not SI’s fault, it’s purely the nature of football, if they can correct the intrinsic faults that are contained within football, i.e. the best keep getting better whilst allowing the new to improve with visible results, then maybe I’ll continue, but I’m not playing for ten seasons without seeing any results aside from mid table anonymity.”

This prompted a response on my part where I shed some light on how this perceived fact is simply not true at all. I don’t believe many new subscribers have put in the amount of time and understanding needed to weigh the strategic decisions that govern why this is false. For the benefit of all our readers, I’d like to share my fundamental thoughts on this issue.

Your expected value is very likely higher in older game worlds.

Football Manager Live is a game that has an obvious zero-sum expectation (one’s win is another’s loss) but that dynamic changes drastically because of one variable – the finite player database.

If it were actually possible for every team to acquire & develop all household name superstars as they progress, then your perception would be correct – those that have a longer time period to achieve this would always have an advantage. But that’s not the way the game works. The finite database of players creates a supply/demand tipping point that may seem tied to all teams in the entire game world, but it’s actual interdependence to the financial model is variable and weighed differently for every quality band of talent.

The finite player database – how does this affect an established market?

In an older game world, top teams are at such a level of player talent and finances that there is a very limited capacity for them to mark improvement. Because of this, the inkling of expected value they earn from new super star player purchases or stadium upgrades is extremely expensive. The supply/demand ratio is so high that it could cost these teams 10x a normal amount to maintain or improve their status. This in turn, levels them off to a more reasonable financial status in comparison to the mid-lower tiered teams.

Applying this concept to the “mid-table” clubs – this leaves the door open for a much higher return rate in the 2nd or 3rd tier player pool. The supply/demand ratio in this level is significantly lower, which means the cost for improvement is cheaper, but the team earns a much higher expected value on their good decisions. Because of this, they’re able to acquire a better caliber squad while still maintaining a positive cash flow and building up their bank balance. When the right moment hits, these mid-table clubs then have the opportunity and resources to implement a risk/reward choice that could catapult them up to the elite echelon.

The finite player database – how does this affect an emerging market?

Compare all of this now to new game worlds. When everyone is on a level start with limited resources, the player pool supply/demand variable is completely reversed. There aren’t any teams that can actually buy the superstars, so the markets below that tier end up becoming ultra competitive. This is the primary cause of wage/transfer inflation within the first three months of any game world. This means that until teams start breaking through to the next level, your return rate on player purchases will be significantly lower than at any other time.

The negative connotation to this model though is that once teams move up in this new environment, they’re met with limited competition for top tiered players – hence why the jealous cries of many on the forums moaning “you were able to get 1m AF players at a bargain in a new GW, but I can’t do that now!” Is this a flaw in the game play though? Absolutely not. All it does is give the perception, and only the perception, that you need to be one of these so-called “lucky” users in order to succeed in any game world. The mathematics of the game don’t change, folks. In a zero-sum environment, the expected value of all possible decisions remains the same regardless of the time period in which it’s happening.

Hard evidence of these market changes across all FM Live game worlds

This overall concept is why it’s been proven in statistical reports at Sports Interactive that the average CA of teams starting out in older game worlds is significantly higher than in new ones. The changed variable is only the time shift of a club’s rate/ratio of progression… and it evens out to practically a constant level after the first 3 months or so after a new GW opens. For this fact, I can virtually guarantee you that starting out in a game world that’s 12 months old is quite equal to one that’s 36 months old, 72 months, and so forth as far as the player pool & financial model is concerned.

How can you alter your strategy to succeed in an established world?

Yes, in older game worlds you’re not given the opportunity to exploit the high risk/reward choices available to you within the first 3 months of its life. This just means that a more conservative approach that you might be accustomed to has a potentially better expected value. If you’re coming on and trying to mix it up with a market that is ultra-competitive, your success rate will be very low and likely leave your club in a worse condition of which you started. Instead, a more deliberate method of strategy that only sees your team compete in markets with a higher rate of return would be much more effective.

Not to use baseless stereotyping, but standard FM users are typically not accustomed to a measured approach. This is primarily why I see many quit FM Live after trying “crash and burn” strategies in older game worlds. It simply is not effective…. but instead of researching the root cause of their inability to succeed (don’t dare ever blame yourself for losing!) they would rather call the game rubbish and impossible to play in older worlds.

Written By Jordan Cooper
A moderator on GW Fowler and a co-founder of Gameworld One.Com, he has hosted/produced the Get Sacked! podcast for nearly two years providing humor and strategical insight to all about the FM series.
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  • johnrivett

    I agree with you Jordan,

    I left Keane after season 11 i think it was and joined Hoddle. 3 Seasons in Hoddle and i am 3.5 star rep and in top 50 of the gameworld. I have spent about 8m on my stadium which is paid off in 1 week and i shall be making in excess of 120k per day and will be biding my time to hit the BIG time in the next 2 seasons.

    I think the knowledge you have of the mistakes you made previously is invaluable, i am not sure that a new player would be able to achieve as much success so quickly as while the game is forgiving of your errors sometimes it takes 2 or 3 seasons to get over them :)

  • jakswan

    Great article Jordan.

    Getting to the top 50 I think it would depend on number and quality of managers in a GW.

    I think it's fairly easy to put together a 3star team start of season 2, that does require a few 29/30yo's but you can sustain that fairly easily without much of a stadium.

    If you only play teams at your level then you should have fun along the way.

    There is beta thread I started http://community.sigames.co...

    In saying that if 50 managers as good as say T Bag joined the server at the same time then they can't all be playing in the Gold Cup in three seasons time. Totally new managers to FM Live will have a much harder time.

    I think one the most basic problems is Sega's take on all this, i.e. there doesn't seem to be one other than admitting it is harder in a new GW. Why else would you open new GW's for 'new' managers only?

    They only stopped opening new worlds when they couldn't physically open any more. In fact the second the figure out they can open more they then say 'we're going to open one more' :(

    Their plans for old GW's thus far have revolved around discounting old worlds and offering free trials, it just underlines their take on them.

    Despite numerous threads, comments, and demands for action, something is happening 'soon'.

    In saying all that if your efficient know what your doing with the new tiers in GW's you can progress so far and enjoy the game. Can you get to the top depends on your ability and the ability of managers in the Gameworld. How long that takes, same variables applies.

  • T-Bag

    It's most definitely possible to put something together no matter what your budget.

    I do wonder what would happen if SI/SEGA magically refilled the older GWs and 200-300 people turned up at once... would they really be happy with what they could sign ? Perhaps a little OT but it's thoughts like that that concern my about the sustainability of the current GWs

    St John got about 200+ new managers at the end of season 1 from what I recall and for the last few in, it wasn't pretty!

    Squads of generated players for new teams with some kind of CA balance, possibly user selectable (ie - I want a balanced team, I want a top player and fillers) is the way forward imo.

  • T-Bag

    You are correct to a degree but I think you are also wrong in some areas.

    If you join an existing GW which is say 3-4 seasons old then it is actually quite easy. The reason is there are loads of good quality players you can pick up for nothing as the market suddenly hits depression following initial subscribers giving up on the game or subs ending. If you play it clever you can put together a very good squad and compete right from the off.

    But as the GWs get even older you have the problem of the ever shrinking quality in the database. Now most of the database players are very old and still not especially cheap to own. Then all of the regens which DID make it are locked down by auto extends. So pretty much all you can sign are the youths discarded because they are not very good or very old players no one wants with very little in-between.

    As an example I joined a GW which was around 4 seasons old and put together a very good squad on the initial 500k budget. I moved the account back there in about season 12 and was surprised to find £5m sitting in my bank. Wow, 10x as much as I had last time.... this is going to be easy I thought. As it goes it's even harder because there are simply no players available to sign who are good enough. I put together a BETTER squad in season 4 with £500k and 30 mins of effort then is possible with £5m and days of work in season 12

  • This is a very valid point, T-Bag and relates heavily towards the apparent regeneration issues older game worlds are experiencing. Even so, the theoretical model I've outlined conceptually above would still apply regardless... yet the knock-on effects you've highlighted would make it just less effective, but still effective nonetheless.

  • StoneColdO

    No it is not.. I have recently re-joined Saunders, a GW approaching 12. season. A lot of the "real superstars" are on the brink of retirement. The top 50 teams all has a potential 260k stadium, players of rep 4-5. I was in Saunders before, so I know the GW, know the people and I have a great stadium. So I will probably manage to get in top 50 withing 2-3 seasons from now.

    BUT! And yes there is a BUT coming.

    For new teams, without skills and with only 500k to buy from, it is an IMPOSSIBLE task to raise funds for both a semi decent squad and even more for a stadium.. Stadion would cost in the region of 15 mil - and then not even considering that a new manager would be a full year after other managers in terms of skills..
    How are new managers supposed to establish themselves, win games in an rather inactive gameworld, and still have fun?

  • Looks like you're spending WAY too much for a stadium if you think 15m is necessary!

    If you really analyze an established game world's economy, especially in the player market, there are absolute bargains all over the place for new clubs. These are players that have been surpassed in usage by higher level squads, but still have extremely good value for emerging teams. Look at how many $1 auctions there are for players that people would fight tooth and nail over at the beginning of a game world's life.

    It's a sustainable enough model that within 2-3 months time, ANY new club can reach 3* reputation and sit in the top 50 of a game world as long as the manager really puts purchase decisions under scrutiny, manages their cash flow well and dumps money more into infrastructure while still maintaining a competitive squad for their level of play.

  • trainspotter

    Just with reference to the £1 auctions and how useful they actually are to new teams.

    The transfer fees for players (well, those outside of the top 100 players in the GW) are rarely very high in an established GW - it's the wages which matter. I know there are exceptions but primarily people are putting their players up for £1 auctions because that player's wage is too high for the level of talent the player possesses. If a player is on a low wage and possesses a decent amount of talent then the vast majority of managers will keep said player in their side, if not as a starter then as a cheap back-up.

    A new team signing a 50K AF player for £1 might think they're getting a bargain but if that player ends up costing them £15k/day in wages (a fairly extreme example admittedly, although there are countless examples of these sorts of £1 auctions, and auctions with MUCH higher wages, in season 5 of Muhren) then the new team is gaining nothing at all from making that signing.

    Add into the mix the likelihood of a new manager not having Contract Negotiation Level 4+, so that even the auctioned players with low wages will take a wage jump when signing for the new team, and their wage bill can soon spiral wildly out of control despite only signing a few £1 players.

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