The computer game series "Football Manager" is considered by many fans to be one of the most realistic football-management simulations ever. The in-game database includes the data of over 370,000 players scattered all over the world.
Most of the data is gathered by local fans who send their findings to a main researcher for a specific area. He filters out the unrealistic entries before mailing his research to London to the headquarters of the developing firm Sports Interactive Games.
Over the past decade or so, Football Manager (FM), its predecessor Championship Manager, and developing firm Sports Interactive Games (SI Games) have built up an excellent reputation for scouting talent at a very early age.
Many talents that have exploded onto the world stage were recognised by gamers world-wide as FM talents two or three years ago.
Just to give you an example, a player like Javier Saviola moved to Europe in 2001, but he's been a big hit with FM fanatics ever since the 1999 version of the game where he was one of the biggest young talents in the game. The same applies to players like Wayne Rooney, Lionel Messi, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Cristian Ronaldo, and many others.
The fan input gives the game this excellent database. There is no way a company could afford to have professional researchers check out every team in every nation, so this way SI could retrieve reliable and cheap data. After all, handing out complementary games to your researchers will hardly cost you a great deal when your revenue is as good as it is, right?
For reference, the game is generally among the top selling games in the months of December and January which is when the new game is released and millions of copies are sold world-wide.
Anyway, as of last Sunday, Premiership side Everton has announced a deal with Sports Interactive which will grant David Moyes and his staff unrestricted access to SI's player database.
As I said before, over 370,000 players are crammed into one database and Everton reckon it will help them scout more easily abroad. An official press release by the Toffees states: "In the past, Football Manager has accurately identified Wayne Rooney’s potential talent when he was just 15 and has been the first to predict other future stars including Lionel Messi, Ashley Young, and Jose Baxter.”
According to David Moyes, "The 2009 edition gives a real insight to what life is like as a Premier League manager, from buying players to playing matches, and I am sure, as in previous years, it will provide hours and hours of entertainment for fans whatever their team."
Nothing being said about using the game for scouting purposes, right?
Well, that's not quite true according to SI Games' leading developer Miles Jacobson. “We’ve known for a while that teams use the game to research certain players, whether to buy or to check out the opposition, but this formal recognition by a premiership team is fantastic and we are sure it will prove a fruitful one for the Everton FC.”
And they said football management games were not realistic enough. Ha!