Football Manager 2015 Review

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Football Manager 2015 is a detailed, complex, and highly technical game which allows the user the play the part of a coach and manager of a soccer team. FM enables players to tweak nearly every aspect of their team's performance and positioning, from their training to what mentalities the athletes ought to have in any one game.

The game's menus and toolbars are easy to navigate, and most of FM 2015's UI is sleek and clean. But I didn't find FM 2015 fun -- I found it overwhelming. I attribute this to two things:
  1. FM is very hands-off in the teaching process, possibly assuming that players read their online manual or have played the game before. Few concepts are taught in depth.
  2. The main game's UI crowds the page, buries information, and is over-stimulating.

Sleek Design

I'll first start off with some positives -- I really enjoyed how organized and clean FM 2015's Start Menu is. The terminology used, the layout, and the colors all worked together and gave me a great first impression of the game. FM has a truly intuitive layout and uses unambiguous terminology throughout the game, for which I commend it. Looking through FM 2015's credits, a significant amount of research was put into this game -- and it shows. On terms pure ease of UI use, I give FM 2015 an A.

Difficulty selection overlay
I also appreciated that FM 2015 steers players away from selecting game options that will lower their game speed and quality. Considering my computer can't handle much, I liked the warning. And of course selected the least resource-intensive options.


Sink or Swim

In my mind, teaching someone a new game is somewhat like teaching someone to swim. Most games start new players off slow, starting in shallow water and teaching the foundations. FM 2015 drops its new swimmers into deep water with a half-deflated flotation device and asks them to swim ashore. 

I'll explain. First, the deep water.

There is a lot of information players need to process in order to play optimally. Assuming the user comes into the game familiar with the sport's rules and general tactics, there is still much to absorb. You need to know how to transfer players, how to position your players, how to balance your budget, when to fire a staff member... and so much more. Unless you like reading manuals to learn a game, FM 2015 provides very little guidance.

FM doesn't let you drown completely -- it gives you enough information to stay afloat via tooltip bubbles, which open into paragraphs of text. While the advice in each bubble is clear and concise, most pages host two or more tooltip bubbles. If you want to learn how to play the game, prepare to read extensively. Thus the deflated flotation device -- you get enough information to play the game, but in a very limited, ineffective way.

Sub-Menu in Tactics with tooltip bubbles (yellow) active
I find this confusing and intriguing for a specific reason: for a such visual medium, FM 2015 doesn't adhere to the "show, don't tell" adage. Why ask the user to read walls of text when you can show examples instead? What I found interesting is that while FM 2015 taught most of its concepts through the tooltips, there was at least one instance of a 'wizard' tutorial in Tactics.

Set Piece Creator Wizard
Though tricky to see in the screenshot, FM 2015 walks the user through a 12-step process of setting up their Set Pieces. I found this tool immensely helpful. Instead of flooding me with information as the tooltips did, the Set Piece Wizard allowed me to learn the concepts at my own speed on a very uncluttered screen.

  • Please, please create more learning tools like the Set Piece Creator Wizard. As a player completely new to the game, I found its clear-cut manner and step-by-step organization far more helpful than all of the tooltips combined.
  • At the very least, consider swapping the 'Tactics' to 'Training' section with the 'Squad' to 'Reserves' section. Since you need to establish Tactics before adjusting your Squad, it makes more sense to me to put Tactics first. 


After viewing the minimalistic Start Menu, I was surprised to see that nearly every screen following game selection was crowded, busy, and packed with information. 

Club Profile

The Club Profile page (above) and many others displayed chunks of text and data without explanation. While I'm sure the data are intended to help players better-manage their teams, I found opening a tab to a full, unexplained screen overwhelming.

Every time I stumbled across a wall of text, I kept asking: what is this information for? Why do I need it? Am I being shown it because it's vital to know? And even after scrolling through the menus, I'm not really sure if I really need to know all I saw. Was it interesting? Yes. Helpful? Not really.


  • Don't begin with all of the information windows open on every page. This ought to reduce some of the overstimulation, as there will be less to process all at once.
  • Potentially allow players to pin windows that they find helpful and remove/collapse ones that they don't.
  • You could also potentially have a 'summary' page where a player can pin and easily review the information they find most helpful.


Without fully understanding how to play the game, let alone play it well, I found myself more lost and confused the longer I spent playing FM 2015. Page after page, tab after tab, had information I didn't have the foundation to process. By the end of the trial, I felt that FM 2015 was more frustrating than fun.

That being said, I can see how this game could be very fun. I think my learning barrier would've been lower if I knew more about soccer or had played earlier versions of the game.

Even so, I think it's important for Sports Interactive to know that there is a high learning barrier for those who are less familiar with the sport or previous iterations of the game. There's a lot to learn, and I feel like it's strange that FM 'tells' more than it 'shows.'


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