Jolt Online Brings Famed Championship Manager Series to Facebook with Balance Between Realism and Accessibility

Championship Manager: Rivals is a social soccer management simulation that launched to the public on June 1, 2011. As the game is brand new, it’s not yet listed on our traffic tracking service AppData, but keep an eye out for it in the next 48 hours. Facebook currently lists the app as having 117 monthly active users at the time of writing.

Championship Manager: Rivals is based on the popular home computer game series of the same name. Championship Manager, or “Champman” as it is sometimes known, is one of the most recognizable sports game brands in the United Kingdom’s video game industry, having been around since 1992. In the past, the game has been regarded as a hardcore sports fan’s experience, which has presented developer Jolt Online Gaming with a number of challenges when adapting it to the social gaming space.

“We still have the tricky problem of the game naturally not being hardcore enough for the extreme football fans used to the old PC version, and maybe a bit too hardcore for the more casual social gamer,” says Richard Barnwell, CEO of Jolt. “However, I’m confident we’ve found the middle ground.”

There are a number of sports management and training games on Facebook. FIFA Superstars from EA Playfish is one of the largest and one of only a few that leverages real life teams and leagues that players can interact with. These sports games seem to struggle with straddling the divide between faithful simulation of the actual sport and traditional engaging social gameplay. Barnwell believes that Championship Manager: Rivals masters that tricky blend between realism and accessibility.

“This is the first football/soccer game that will give passionate football fans the game they are after,” he says. “Players choose real teams from real leagues and transfer real football stars. All of the footballers’ statistics are built from a huge team of researchers and as such the Rivals game allows players to get right into the detail of playing a simulation type of game, or if they prefer, playing in a more casual style.”

The game is monetized in the same way as many sports games on Facebook, with a premium and standard currency. Players can use Facebook Credits to acquire Cash, the game’s hard currency, which is spent on unlocking new team formations, new training exercises, reducing training time and the transfer market. Attempting to purchase players of very different ability levels will incur a Cash transfer charge if the incoming player is considerably better than the outgoing one.

“We want to ensure we build a player base that doesn’t have to spend [money] to play the game,” continues Barnwell. “It’s about building an active and engaged community.”

Barnwell describes the long-term development plan for Rivals as “very aggressive” and notes that the post-launch development team is larger than the original development team. Upcoming additions include more leagues from lower divisions, the ability for teams to be promoted and relegated, player injuries and bans as well as the ever-popular facility for players to compete against each other.

“The strategy is to build the best soccer management game there is on the Internet,” explains Barnwell. “We have the data, we have the ideal social framework and hopefully with as much player feedback as possible they’ll help us achieve this. This is a long term project for us.”

Championship Manager: Rivals’ detailed user statistics will be available soon from AppData, our traffic tracking application for social games and developers.