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.