Who doesn’t like to scratch an itch? I know I do. Unfortunately, I’ve had an itch since 2011 left by the closure of Football Manager Live that has been entirely un-scratchable until recently when I chanced upon ‘90 Minute Fever’ while browsing the Steam store.
90 Minute Fever is a football MMO, currently in alpha, in which managers create a team by designing their kit, crest and name before being given a modest squad of about 20 randomly generated players. They are then set loose on the path to fame and victory, particularly fame, against other real-world managers. While 90MF is quite obviously heavily inspired by the Football Manager franchise, right down to an almost carbon copy of its stats system, one interesting element really represents the World of professional football in a new and innovative way and this is the reputation system.
The reputation rating is a 5-star rating system which tracks a player’s popularity. While this will naturally be influenced by how well they perform, it can also be influenced by having had multiple transfer offers or by simply being viewed by a lot of other managers. This system effectively shows you how well the player’s career is progressing and presents an interesting dynamic. When a player is at the peak of their career they will be more visible to other managers, they will command higher transfer values, but also higher wages. Players can attempt to snag risky bargains by purchasing highly skilled players who simply haven’t had much exposure or aren’t playing very well, or they can splurge out on an expensive but in-form player with a high reputation. This has led to a bustling and entertaining market-like vibe on the public chat, with managers endlessly flogging and bartering over one another’s players.
But 90MF isn’t just about buying and selling players, it is also a deep and faithful simulation of football management. Upon creating a club, you will be placed into the Qualifying FA, a bunch of leagues which are designed to sort managers out from best to worst. During this first season, you will select an FA to progress to once your qualifying season is over. Each FA plays its games at a different time of the day. The afternoon FA plays its matches between noon at 6pm, the evening FA is between 6pm and midnight. This excellent system allows players to ensure that they can be around to manage their teams during games by matching managers at their convenience. Outside of the league and FA cup competitions there is the ‘Sans Pareil Cup’ which is a kind of Champions League consisting of the game’s top teams, as well as the ‘90MF Cup’ which hosts every team in every FA.
The match engine is, I have to admit, still a little primitive. Games are currently narrated via text and while there is a promised highlights system in the pipeline, for the moment it feels like you have limited control after kick-off. Other features such as staff and stadium management present a big ‘coming soon’ sign when you click on them, but this is the nature of alpha and honestly, I’m enjoying the game so much already that I don’t even notice the missing features most of the time. The depth of the player management and development system, combined with the excellent UI and accessibility of the whole thing presents a really bright future for 90 Minute Fever. For those of you who love football management sims but can’t afford to sink hours and hours into Football Manager, you may find a new home in this fantastic indie MMO.