Football Manager's wealth of stats, figures and tactics make it one of my favourite strategy games. I'm into sports in real life, granted, but I'd argue the strategy trappings found in sports management sims can be enjoyed by all fans of the genre.
This is something Paradox CEO Fred Wester says he and his team have considered in the past. For his money, there's more mileage in baseball management sims.
"While I love football (soccer), I'm a big baseball fan myself," Wester tells me. "I learned that baseball is huge in Japan—it's like the second biggest sport behind sumo. Baseball would be a great management sim, because there's so much statistics. Have you seen the movie Moneyball? The brilliance of baseball is that it's a team sport and a single sport at the same time. It's the pitcher against the batter and then it's a team game at the same time. It's like a team-based football game, only with penalties. All of that in a game would be great."
What would it take for Paradox to develop a baseball management sim, then? "We'd need Johan Anderson to invest his time in the sport," says Wester. "He's into hockey, which is the wrong sport. Ice hockey is okay but it's too small on a global scale. I'd love to do baseball."
Accessibility can make or break sports management sims—which is something Football Manager does particularly well. I suggest to Wester that Paradox's games aren't always the easiest to break into without an existing knowledge of how their games and systems work.
"The game that hits you in the face with a baseball bat when you try to play it is Hearts of Iron 3. You open it and you have no idea what's going on, you have 20 pop-up windows and everything is confusing," says Wester. "After that, we thought: we need to stop hitting people in the face. Crusader Kings 2 was the first step in that direction, despite its terrible tutorial. The game is good once you get past the barrage of information. I think Stellaris is the biggest step forward.
"I also think the pinnacle of introducing people to complex gameplay is Firaxis—we need to learn more them. What they do with Civilization, for example, is make a super complex game seem super easy to learn. You learn things all the time as you go along. You start out small and are introduced to the complexities of the game from there.
"It's harder to do that in Europa Universalis—you start out as burgundy and you're in the middle of all the shit, so it's harder to do there. I think at Paradox people are so invested in the core gameplay that no one cares about the tutorial. We need to do our homework there."