Dec 07

Football Manager Live and the World of Gambling – Part 2


Seeing as my previous article Football Manager Live and the World of Gambling got some replies, I feel the need to write another one about my idea, in order to answer the comments and put some light on the actual implementation.. A better explanation was definitely needed.

The first comment I received was from FMLBlog (good site by the way, too bad it’s only in Italian) and it sounds like this: “Match fixing? No, thanks.”

This was an accurate and level-headed point of view that only came to my mind sporadically whilst writing the first article, which is a shame. I completely agree, match fixing scandals could be even more frequent in the world of Football Manager Live, than in the real world! You could just ask your best mate to bet on the team you will be facing in your next match and you could line up ten outfield players, having not less than ten wingers. Match lost, your mate won £4k and it is time for you two to share the money.

What could Sports Interactive do in order to prevent this?

How could a sport betting system be implemented in FML?

Inspired by the second comment I received, from Mark Burton, I’m not giving up just yet! “Agree – and that was my first thought on reading the article. There are a lot of rules and scrutiny on anyone involved in a “Sport” that can be bet on, I doubt the FML managers would be ready for that.”

Indeed, they are not ready. *Yet!* I think the best way to approach the situation is by creating a long term plan. In order to have some valuable feedback from customers(best way of feedback), SI would need to start things slowly. First of all, I would implement a 100% free betting system. You get virtual money and you can spend it on betting, nothing major, just a bit of fun. People like gambling, so why not combine two of their passions, Football Manager Live and the joy of betting money on a hazard, even if it’s only a virtual one? If the company detects any attempts at ‘match fixing’, virtual money could be taken away and even suspension of the user’s FML account for a short while.

Of course this would work only in the blatant rip offs, like the one I’ve described earlier, with the 10 wingers. In other cases it would be much harder to prove. There are methods in which you only do minor things and the outcome of the match will be drastically changed in the favour of your opponent or in the favour of your bet, in this case. Anything we can do in order to prevent these?

I would say so, yes. By implementing this type of betting system, SI could probably get their hands on a huge amount of money. The best way to fuel a system would be fuelling it by it’s own resources. One thing that I have in mind is organizing tournaments, with actual money being at stake. Football Manager Live challenges, which could make the winners not only proud of their achievements, but also with a few extra quid in their wallets. Again, I’m not saying that SI should make it’s customers millionaires, but maybe add a little reason for fair play.

In fact excuse me, but I will go a bit off-topic for a paragraph. If you don’t care about money and FM/FML, please ignore these few lines. One of the problems with FM and FML websites is the lack of money! Call me a capitalist prick, but this is true.

Money is what drives websites forward and genuinely there are no real attempts of creating money making possibilities on the FM scene (there will be, but I have no intentions of spoiling anything), apart from a few attempts at advertising (see Susie or FMD). I consider these to be beneficial additions, therefore I will never condemn anyone with Adsense on their website. We are all human and probably the majority of us are not millionaires to be able to continuously invest money in something which will bring back no more than the shear joy of watching your visitor count raise.

Back on topic…

Even though there is no real bullet proof method against match fixing in real life, yet alone in an online environment, there are ways of stopping people from trying to trick the system. Drastic sanctions, monitoring matches and making people feel that winning is worth it and limiting betting fees to sums that are not worth risking your account getting suspended for. Decent odds, but limits on winning and spending, possible betting variations, with a huge variety of different options to bet on. Nothing exaggerated and everyone welcome, even those who do not have the resources to spend £100 on a simple bet.

If real time challenges with actual prices would be a too drastic a change from the current system, I am sure that there are other ways, handing out prizes for people at the top of their gameworlds for example. Of course given that old players start from a much better spot than newcomers, I might get flamed for this opinion, but wouldn’t it be normal if those who spend more time playing would have a better shot at winning?
Of course there are downsides of a betting system in an enjoyable game like Football Manager Live.

Levo sums it up:
The idea itself does make sense in terms of business sort of way and maybe raise the exposure of the game. But would it raise actual amount of players or make money for FML or just the bookmakers? The nature of the horse racing that you watched is that there is no human involvement in the game. But their is in FML where people of different ages some under 18 are playing for fun add gambling into this even for those over 18 you add a hell of a lot of pressure put on to win and even the possible corruption that could be laid into it.”

Great point about virtual horse races not having human input and betting creating more pressure, possibly taking away from the fun for everyone. This would definitely be a great obstacle and adding the fact that there are many under 18 years old playing the game, it would make this idea a huge risk, with a chance of SI actually losing more members than the amount they gain!

The only solution I can see for this is making the feature optional, with of course the eventual competition winning bonus being there for everyone, who wishes to get some money and of course having a Paypal or Moneybookers account. If you are under 18, you couldn’t use the system meanwhile if you are over the age, you have the right to chose whether you want to get involved or not. If you feel you can cope with the pressure, know yourself out and spend some quid! Maybe win a part of it back. In my opinion, these could help SI keep it’s old players and maybe (just maybe) bring in some new guys too!

If Sports Interactive wants to be even more successful in the market, they need to make their business profitable for their own company and for everyone else as well. A fully functional betting system would not just help them, but could potentially help players/customers and add an extra motivation for them in order to do their best. Try something out and if it works, make sure you expand it. Don’t sit down and enjoy your partial success. By implementing a betting system step-by-step, the creators of the game could get real-time feedback and if they consider that it will never work, then just stop.

Written By Zoltan Simon
"Zoli" is one of the most prominent, active members of the Football Manager community and can be seen regularly posting on forums across the scene.
Interested in more? Here are some related articles for you!
  • Football betting is also a type of a gambling. If you are always go for it, then a small interest can also become a big gambling addiction.

  • This is way, way off, probably about 30 years down the road. Hopefully by then Sports Interactive will have gone bust and some other football management sim will rule the roost.

  • This idea would need vast amounts of investment and governing and you have to wonder whether it even fits in with the business ethics of a company like SI. I can see that business opportunity and the potential for it, but I think that the best thing that FM Live can do is focus on its core product, making the best possible MMO they can. So indeed everything would have to be a long term plan, I am not sure though whether morally I would want to see such a thing exist. I have nothing wrong with betting, I have known to have a flutter myself.

    On your side note, the FM community is sitting on a goldmine untapped until now and certain people who are professionally running blogs on the community (JordanC :D) are definitely changing the lay of the land and it has give me some food for thought in recent times. I did write an article a few months back you can read it at FM View

  • Mark_Burton

    "I think the best way to approach the situation is by creating a long term plan. In order to have some valuable feedback from customers"

    An interesting side note to this article, 1.4 looks likely to see the return of in game betting in FML (we used to have it in early beta testing) - This would utilise the token system rather than a clubs cash (so virtual, virtual money if you like).

    Presumably this would give SI some good data on whether or not the gambling aspect is something that appeals to the customer base.

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