Pocket Club Manager landed on Western mobile devices recently, bringing a more casual approach to football management than certain other Sega games. Like, uh, Football Manager, for example.
It's been out in Japan and other countries in Asia for a short while, but now it's come to our shores and with only a few minor changes to boot, so we can finally spend some time managing our own tiny clubs in the palm of our hand.
To find out more on the game, we spoke to Producer Nobuchika Miyazaki and Lead Producer Riichiro Yamada about the inspiration behind the game and what changes have been made from the Asian release.
Pocket Gamer: Where did the initial idea for Pocket Club Manager come from?
Miyazaki & Yamada: This is latest title in SEGA's hugely popular and long-running soccer simulation games "SakaTsuku" series. The project started with the aim of trying to implement this series on to the smartphone.
Why have you decided to launch the game outside of Japan?
There are many great football management simulation games overseas, but it requires expert knowledge in order to play. We though that this genre is very hard to get into, especially for new or casual users.
We made the experience more casual new users can play the game more easily, and also wanted to break through this impression of management simulation is hard.
How was the reaction to the game in Asia?
We have had positive feedback from users around world. One of the reasons is that there is plenty of things to do, so any player can enjoy it however they want).
For example, players that like to play on their own then have the single-player mode, but players who want to compete with others have online play.
Above all, the formation/tactics and the starting membesr are all different depending on how the player has played the game, such as ability oriented teams or tactics-strategy oriented. I think we did great job making a place for self-expression in a soccer game.
Have you changed the game at all to appeal to Western gamers?
Basically, we implemented the same elements as the Japanese version, but changed how we advertise it. In Japan, the tagline is "the simulation game that you can play for free", but for the Western market we changed it into "Casual Football RPG".
As we release this title in the global market, we consulted with the Football Manager team, who said that Pocket Club Manager is not a type of game that goes as deep as a traditional simulation game, but focuses more on management of the Club itself and the drama within.
Therefore, instead of choosing "simulation", we chose "RPG" so that users can easily understand what kind of game it is.
What makes Pocket Club Manager the right fit for mobile?
It has a simple game cycle with easy controls that can be carried out with one hand. We spent a lot of time tuning the design of the game to make it more accessible for players with a small amount of time on their hands.
How much control will players have over their team, both on and off the pitch?
Basically users will be setting up team (choosing formation, tactics, starting member, changing position etc.) before the game and watch the match. Therefore you cannot control the actual players on the ground.
We discussed this part over and over, but we didn't want to tire our players out as they got further into the game and had to keep personally playing the matches every time.
We wanted to focus more on developing the team, so we made this part simple to encourage people to keep coming back.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome during development?
We did a lot of work to keep battery usage low so there's as little stress as possible on player's battery consumption and data transmission.
We continuously tested from the beginning of development on the amount of data we use so that stable play can be had at all times, even on devices with low specs.
Which element of Pocket Club Manager are you particularly proud of?
There are two main things.
First, we did a pretty good job creating a game for players who want to have a casual management game. I hope players that are interested in football management will have as much fun as players that are experts in football games.
Secondly, players can create their own football team and add their own drama to it. It's not something you would see in other games, so we would like players to enjoy this in particular.
What can you tell us about future updates for Pocket Club Manager?
We will continue to add new features and updates to enrich the game and add more collection elements for players.
Recently, we implemented a challenge mode called "World Tour". In this event players will challenge world’s strongest club. Players can earn rewards and event tickets by completing the mission set for each stage.