As a big pro wrestling fan, I think about the “best management sim” in terms of a world title belt where the “booking” of the category could feel annoying if you had to watch the “win trading” continue to happen between two top contenders who were not worthy of that spot. But sometimes the mix of personalities and skill on display allows you to eat up rematch after rematch between two adversaries. Instead of it dragging on like an endless slog of Cena/Orton rematches, instead it’s Rock/Austin at WrestleMania. You could watch it every week or year because it’s the two best athletes at the top of their game, and it’s widely accepted no one else can touch them. This is the OOTP vs. Football Manager battle, and even if the category certainly involves other good to great games, the two superstars are in the main event for a reason. This year, we went with Football Manager 2022 as the Best Management Sim in 2021.
Best Management Sim In 2021: Football Manager 2022
We don’t think there’s any wrong answer here (and spoiler, the community went with OOTP), and it’s because both Sports Interactive and OOTP Developments have cultivated their audiences and crafted versions of their games that highlight so much about why baseball and soccer can be appreciated on these deeper levels. There is love and passion that is tapped into to such a degree that if you love these sports and all the complications and amalgamations that go into team building, it’s nearly impossible not to connect with these games.
We felt Football Manager was slightly better, but honestly in part it just comes down to who is on staff at any given moment. If we have slightly more baseball-focused folks than soccer-focused folks at the time, chances are one will win out over the other. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just logical that if you have two great games, whatever sport you lean towards a bit more will usually just win out by default because you play it a little more.
What both these games have pushed towards and are doing better each year includes trying to find a broader audience by making these incredibly deep games a little more accessible and a little more visually appealing. These two elements also really separate them from the Draft Day Sports titles or Franchise Hockey Managers of the world. I would assume OOTP and Football Manager have bigger budgets than most other management sims, and I think it’s certainly logical to try and use that extra development budget to grab more potential players.
Beyond the visuals, as much as sports games have evolved through the years, these management sims are still where you find the best version of these franchise modes that many think are on a downswing elsewhere. A management sim is not for everyone as even some folks want more visual bang out of the scouting or roster building process, but these management sims are unquestionably the best form of that sort of playground if you want to actually be a GM.
I have not said much about our winner on its own merits, so I should at least say that the new data hub and improved visuals did help Football Manager 22 win out this year. But I’m talking about the two games together mostly because it really is one of those things where it’s just down to personal preference. If you play both games a ton that’s great, but usually at this point you’re either investing tons of hours in or the other year to year — and neither is a bad choice.
Community Vote – Best Management Sim In 2021
- Out Of The Park Baseball 2022
- Football Manager 2022
- Draft Day Sports: Pro Football 2022
Again, as I mentioned briefly above, the community went with OOTP here. It makes perfect sense as we just have a bit more of a baseball presence and OOTP presence here in this community. It’s not that OOTP does not deserve it either, and it’s honestly preferred that the vote is split in our eyes because both games deserve some form of praise when it’s tricky for them to stand out in other “best of” categories that we have.
Draft Day Sports: Pro Football 2022 came in a very distant third place, but I do want to reiterate that this is a sub-genre that is in a solid place. College sports mods have been nice to have in this space during the last decade, and we don’t see any reason why these games can’t continue to find an audience. In fact, at a time where something like Football Manager can make it onto Game Pass, it seems like these sorts of titles could be a great “sweetener” for a lot of these subscription services. While the audiences might not all be huge, they are full of loyal and passionate fans.