Dutch developer Gamebasics originally launched Online Soccer Manager in 2001 as an alternative for hardcore football managing games like Football Manager and FIFA. Sixteen years after its launch OSM has become one of the most popular football games on the web, allowing soccer fans around the world to manage their favorite team.
I was first drawn to Online Soccer Manager as a teenager, just after its launch in 2001. The game quickly gained popularity among my school mates and the ability to play against one another with your favorite team proved a simple yet effective formula for success. After high school I lost sight of the game and I forgot about it for many years. My attention was drawn to games like FIFA and PES, which offered a more realistic football simulation.
After moving to a new home and not having anything near a gaming PC at my disposal I decided to look for fun FIFA alternatives. This is how I rediscovered my childhood favorite OSM. Obviously the game has undergone various changes through the years. But in its essence the game is still about the exact same thing, namely managing a football team.
The first thing you will notice when starting with OSM is that it comes with its own unique cartoon-like style. Mascot Doerak welcomes you on the homepage and provides useful tips along the way. Doerak’s various appearances, in a manager’s uniform, a referee uniform and many more, thereby give the game a fun and unique feel.
Aside its mascot, another thing that immediately stands out are the game’s large clickable menu’s and visual user interface style. This makes it easy to navigate.
The colorful icons, and large square blocked menu’s give OSM a game-like feel. This is an improvement over when I played OSM about a decade ago, when it felt much more like clicking through a website. Small things like loading bars and transitional cut scenes also add to this game-like style.
What I also like is that the game remains consistent no matter on what device you play it. Using the PC browser, a smartphone browser or the mobile app, all versions will offer the same design and experience.
The game comes with a wide range of features. The main ones include team management, choosing tactics, individual player training, buying and selling players (via the transfer market), expanding your stadium, hiring staff and choosing sponsors.
On a day to day basis I find that I mainly use the team management, training and transfer market, which are also my favorite features of OSM. In team management you can select what players you want to have on the pitch and in what formation you want to start. In the training section you can select up to 4 players that you want to improve, one attacker, one midfielder, one defender and one goal keeper. This allows you to improve your players and improve their stats. Especially young players can be trained significantly. The transfer market subsequently allows you to buy and sell players.
The gameplay is pretty straight forward. You basically set up your team for the daily match and once the match starts you can either follow the live commentary or wait for the results to show up on the home section.
In the beginning I followed the live commentary, which is somewhat similar to watching a one to two minute feed of key events during the match. On a day to day basis I find myself skipping to the results right away. After a match you are thereby directly able to see all the statistics of the latest match, allowing you to make any additional changes to make your team better.
The coins that you can earn for various achievements thereby allow you to speed up training progression, stadium upgrades or other relevant improvements in OSM. This does make it a lot more fun to reach certain achievements, but it also opens up the flaw that has also poisoned real life football, which is that the richest team can improve their team the most and can get much stronger than the rest.
One of the greatest parts of Online Soccer Manager is that it comes with official club, competition and player names. This makes the game realistic and immerses you deeper in the game compared to similar ones that come with fantasy names and competitions.
One of the things I miss are that not all competitions have licensed players, like the Spanish La Liga competition. When playing with one of these teams you will find fantasy logo’s and players do not depict real player images. Luckily most of the biggest competitions do have all the official names and images and these are constantly expanded.
Online Soccer Manager is the funnest football simulator of its kind. It does not set a high bar or learning curve to start playing, yet it offers a wide range of features that will appeal to football sim newbies as well as more demanding football manager fans.
The game can still improve when it comes to official player, club and competition names. But it already offers a lot more ‘real’ football content compared to similar football sims.
Pros: Official names and images of big football competitions, easy to play, tons of features, fun cartoon-like style.
Cons: Not all competitions have real names and images, the richest players can buy themselves the best team.
Online Soccer Manager Verdict