I’ve recently made the move to playing FMM20. That’s not to say I’m not still loving the full PC version of FM20 but a recent change in circumstance has meant playing Football Manager on the fly. The mobile version of the game is something that I’ve tended to stay away from so using FMM20 this year has been a new experience for me, and I’m going to share how I’ve found it and whether I think it’s worth taking a chance on. At the time of writing it was £3.99 in the app store, but is it worth splashing the cash? A record app store transfer fee for me.
Full Fat, Touch and Mobile
If you are a Football Manager purest you might be forgiven for not realising things like FM Touch, FM Mobile or the sun exist. Too busy building a detailed and season-spanning save world with all of the complex choices and detail within FM20 at your fingertips. As we’ve pointed out in previous articles though FM Touch is an interesting alternative if you are pushed for time and don’t want to, or can’t, engage with all the details. But what about FM mobile? Can a game that is stripped down even further than FM Touch still hold the interest on an avid FM gamer?
To put it into context I’ve been playing CM or FM since the CM97/98 game. I’ve played every version since and, as you can see if you have read my statistics articles, love the detail and complexity that Football Manager has. I basically think FM Touch is at best a necessary evil for those pushed for time. I may have described it during a podcast as being for deviants.
So why I have started with FMM20 now? Basically, I’ve got a newborn and busy job. I’ve been forced to go cold turkey on the full-fat FM20 due to circumstance. Although I’ll be back to it eventually I needed something to tide me over. Something to scratch the itch. So I took a leap of faith with the mobile version so I would have something I could play one-handed whilst bottle-feeding or when hiding in the toilet.
What is different on FMM20?
There are some clear changes to FMM20 when you start, such as the season limit (20 to a save) and nation limits (up to 5), that reflect the reduced nature of the game in comparison to FM20 proper. But what else is different?
As you can see here the full range of attributes has been reduced down to 17. With some of them liking finishing and composure seemingly condensed into shooting.
This does reduce the complexity of the game, and as a result, the differences and nuances between players aren’t as great as it would be in the full fat game. The bonus for this approach though is that with a smaller screen, and less time to be sorting through players anyway, it streamlines the process. It also makes comparing your own players less of a chore. FMM20 is all about speed and ease and this sacrifice with the attributes really seems to work.
Training and Progress
There’s also some streamlining in the training module as well. You can still train positions and roles and focus. But you won’t need to worry about day by day schedules.
Interesting you actually get post-match feedback on all players so you can see how the game time has been influencing their development. A nice simple progress bar, percentages and if you hover over the icon a little information on what sort of change. Are they making lots of progress because they’ve been featuring more? Have they been maintaining their edge because of the recent run-in?
It’s really dumbed down over the masterpiece on FM20 but it’s still satisfying and really accessible. Even the mentoring is straightforward, with the ‘old fashioned’ approach of pairing players rather than organising groups.
This works a bit like a lucky dip and I love it. At the end of the season you get a gameshow-esque collection of greyed out players to choose from. You select your squares and they then reveal the youth players you’ve selected. A massive gimmick but considering that youth intake is a massive lottery in FM20 (within the confines of the facilities).
It adds a bit of razzle-dazzle to it all.
There’s still plenty of detail here when compared with an earlier version of CM and FM but the full range of instructions have been reduced again. You don’t have the preset style options but you have enough choices and options to mimic.
Some of the roles differ as well with Pressing Forward being absent for example, and the older defensive forward being there instead. But perhaps the biggest difference is the lack of duties. Gone are attack, defence, support and automatic.
More of the micromanaging is taken out with the lack of set-piece routines, but for those tempted to use exploits maybe that is a good thing. In general, the lack of detail in the tactics can be a benefit as well. Whilst I love making tactics it’s very hard to over complicate things with this tactical interface. With the 2D match graphics as well it can make tactical choices more clear cut.
FMM20 Achievements, DLC, and Badges
There are unlocks for FMM20. Want a son? Want to be unsackable? All up for grabs, as are improvements to the stadium and facilities. This all chafes a little bit to begin with, and it feels like a money grab. Especially when you see items like the editor going for £8.99 (more than I paid for the game!), and coaching badges for sale.
That’s right. Unless you have the badges you start your save with nothing. But, it’s not all bad. Almost everything in the store can be unlocked in-game. Within a few games I had my bronze badge, a season later I have my silver. And now they are unlocked I can use them in any of my saves apparently.
Pro’s and Cons
A lot of the above covers the positives. By making it less complex it creates a very quick game. Matches still take a little time to play, even with the highlights cranked up to eleven, but a season can be done very quickly. Or for those with newborns four bottle feeds and three toilet trips.
The lack of complexity also means the more time-intensive parts of a normal FM20 game can still work, and be satisfying, even though you’re playing on a small screen. For example scouting and transfers still work quite well as you have fewer attributes to sift through, and less to do with promises, playing time, bonuses and contract types.
You can see player progression after every match with the unique progress presentation. So even though the involvement in mentoring and training is limited there’s a real and clear impact from playing your young prospects.
And then there’s the youth intake. It’s a gimmick but the reveal makes it feel like you’ve won a prize. Sometimes a prize turnip or lemon but it’s got a bit of razzle-dazzle about it.
If you love the financial side of things and number crunching then it’s not going to be for you. FMM20 sucks the soul out of this part of Football Manager. Unless I’ve missed it you don’t get to see your balance, just a description of how things are. And whilst you have a clear transfer and wage budget how it gets topped up is very simple. You have your starting budget, plus whatever sales you make…and that is it. If you exceed your wage budget you’re done, you can’t really offer any more contracts out until you get it under control again.
This does make it hard to take any joy out of the financial side of the game, and to be honest encourages you to absolutely rinse your wage budget by making several contract offers at the same time. If you’ve got £20pw left you can make as many full contract offers as you want even if it’ll take you over the limit, so long as they all complete on the same day.
You don’t have to watch your bottom line struggle season by season, but that leads to another issue. You have limited seasons and limited leagues. With 20 seasons to play before the save ends you know that every save has a limited shelf life. I know for many 20 seasons is more than enough but I find it a bit sad that no matter what your save has to end at that point.
With the limited leagues as well you have to choose with five countries you are going to spend those 20 seasons in. And unlike other versions of FM you can’t add and remove leagues later on. For those that like to chop and change it will feel limiting.
My FM20 Mobile Save
I loaded up my leagues and kept it very Great Britain/UK centric with England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in the mix. There might only be 20 seasons to play around with but it gave me plenty of leagues to move around in, including my perennial favourite Northern Ireland.
I decided to start in Wales though. Slightly shorter seasons, fond childhood memories, and TNS to eventually knock off their perch. I plumped for Porthmadog, a place I had been sick at as a child on holiday, and installed Rodrigo de la Vega as manager.
In my full-fat FM20 saves I’m a big fan of hoofball, targetmen, resultism and pragmatism. No changes here as I rock a wide 4-4-2 diamond. As the tactic choices are simpler for FMM20 I’ve opted for a fairly simple mobile set up. Direct passes, long goalkeeper distribution, hard tackling and otherwise simple roles and winger use.
The mobile game doesn’t let you do overly complicated things but as I’m not trying to recreate total football I’m happy enough with that.
Results so far
A couple of new strikers and a winger on a free and Porthmadog were flying. Only rated as mid-table also-rans we managed to win the Nathaniel MG Cup, knocking out some teams in the division above, and finished 2nd in a hard-fought race for the league title and promotion.
We were helped along by Drennan’s 30+ goals from the targetman position.
It was a bit of a kick in the teeth to not get promoted but on we went. With a few more players we are managing in the second season to top the table.
So far, so good. And very little tweaking of the tactic. By very little here I mean none. I’m not a tactical genius so I was satisfied by that. It also meant I could focus more on transfers, results and building the team.
Verdict on FMM20?
It doesn’t hold a candle to the full version of FM20. But then I can’t play FM20 in the comfort of my bathroom. It’s never going to be as in-depth, and it’s never going to draw a hardcore player in. But it’s fast, set up well for a limited time and screen size. To be honest it feels much more like an earlier version of FM/CM in terms of ease than Touch does.
I think that is the key selling point for me. I’m already compromising because I’m not playing FM20 in all its glorious full detail. So if I’m going to compromise then I want something fast, easy and that gives me a nostalgia hit. FM Touch doesn’t really do that for me. Touch doesn’t know what it is. Too complicated and slow to be an easy pick-up and play, but too lacking in detail for me to get over that. FMM20, on the other hand, is fairly fun and doesn’t pretend to be anything other than a quick but limited Football Manager hit.
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