The summer of sport may be drawing to a close, but for many of us the season will start anew on our favourite handheld device. There seems to be no better time to check out the best sports manager games that mobile gaming has to offer.
Not a sports person? Perhaps you’ll enjoy this list of great puzzle games instead!
Better still, armchair sports fans can chill out and enjoy this cerebral selection of sporting simulations without breaking into a sweat. Whether you’r on iOS or Android, a Soccer sycophantic or a Motorsport maniac, we’ve got you covered.
Football Manager Touch 2019 (Review)
There’s no arguing that Football Manager is the king of football management simulations, and FM Touch extends the series’ dominion in to the mobile sphere. The Touch games offer a more accessible take on the PC version, with an interface specially designed for tablet devices. If you’re looking for a cheaper and more accessible FM experience, then you should check out Football Manager 2019 Mobile.
FM19 Touch is just as good as the 2018 (which occupied this spot until now), but it’s worth noting that the changes between the versions are slim. There’s no doubt that this game deserves to claim a top spot in our list, but if you already have previous year’s versions, bear in mind you may baulk a bit at having to re-purchase the game again.
Motorsport Manager Mobile 3 (Review)
This series scores an easy pole position in the motorsport management genre, and the latest instalment is the best looking and most feature-rich yet. For a sport game on mobile devices, this is achingly beautiful, especially the dioramic race tracks which are just so pretty. But the game has lots of substance as well as style with plenty to keep you busy as the principal of a motorsport team, including recruiting drivers, developing the best cars and investing in your facilities. Once the action switches to the track during qualifying and races you’ll still have plenty of decisions to make on race strategy, car set-up and tyres.
For the third game in the series Playsport Games has added six new championships across GT and endurance races, making it deeper than ever before. As our four-star review suggested, MM3 does a great job of getting players emotionally invested in their teams, with a fine line between winning and losing “A game made up of so many small decisions and menus allows for a surprising amount of excitement. Watching those small dots speed around the screen may not give the surge of pleasure a standard racing game would, but watching your team secure a win, leading to a championship is genuinely wonderful.”
Cricket Captain 2018
This series has been around on mobile devices for several years, but without much fanfare, despite being well received by players. Perhaps cricket is more of a niche interest than other sports, particularly among European or American gamers, but this is a must-buy if you are fan of hearing leather on willow.
Cricket management is a very narrow genre, but this game is unrivalled in it with its deep, accurate and comprehensive simulation. Very much the Football Manager of cricket games with its attention to detail, this is packed with features, stats and tactical options that should keep virtual cricket captains happy for many hours.
Football Chairman Pro
Not so much Championship Manager as Chairmanship Manager. This simple but satisfying simulation puts you at the head of the table in the boardroom rather than being in the manager’s office or dugout. Instead of being the football manager going to the chairman asking for extra funds or more time to build you squad, you are the chairman who makes the decision on the hiring and firing of your club’s manager. If you get that decision right, along with sponsorship deals, stadium development, transfers, contracts and more, you’ll be able to turn your little non-league football team into a major force.
It’s a more basic, quick-playing game than, say, Football Manager but its fast pace allows you to whizz through seasons in minutes and hours rather than days and months, making it great for short sessions on the commute. Despite the simplicity and less detail, it’s still got plenty of choices for you to make as the big boss, and enough addictive power to keep you coming back.
Baseball Highlights 2045
As its name suggests this clever card came condenses baseball matches into short bite-sized 10-minute matches. If you are looking for realism then I suggest you move on as this futuristic take on America’s favourite sport has a player roster that includes robotic and cybernetic players. An entire game consists of each player only playing a total six cards, but it still manages to pack in a lot of tough decisions and tension. On your way to the World Series you get to draft new players into your hand, which gives the whole experience a pleasing bubble-gum card collecting nostalgia.
This may not be a sports sim in the strictest sense of the word, but if you are interested in a boxing-themed game with lashings of 1980’s nostalgia then Punch Club rings all the right bells. You embark on a Rocky-style quest of vengeance by setting up fights, whilst juggling your work and social life. It is a game that takes more than its graphical sensibilities from the 1980’s, being tougher than Apollo Creed. This means that you will be doing more grinding than a dirty dancing barista. However, it is still a fine game that is well worth checking out.
New Star Cricket
A cricketing themed follow up to New Star Football that is perfect for those who prefer the thwack of willow on leather. You begin your career with a lowly club in your favourite cricketing nation. Each season you will compete in both 20 and 50 over competitions. Perform well and famous clubs will be queuing up for your signature, you may even get an international call-up. The game does not stray too far from the winning formula of its forbearer. A series of mini-games enable you to improve your skills and have an impact on matches at key points. Gameplay is as equally satisfying in bite-sized spells as it is in marathon sessions, which makes for an ideal mobile game that will have you padding up and heading out to the middle time and time again.
MLB Manager 2018 (Review)
A realistic management simulation that is based on the well–established Out of The Park Baseball Series. You can choose to either guide your favourite team through the 2018 season onwards, play in a fictional baseball world, populated with fresh players and clubs or even re-enact an historical season from days gone by. Management options are extensive; you set line-ups and call the shots as the game unfolds, negotiate contract, trades and drafts. The mobile version is not as complex as its big brother but still rather demanding. The latest version includes updated rosters and improved AI.
While we realise our recent review may throw into doubt MLB’s place on this list, to be honest there aren’t many decent Baseball apps out there, so for now at least MLB Manager retains its place here. OOTP’s main sin seems to be releasing the same game every time with little innovation, so make sure you do your research before deciding whether or not to buy this.
1st & Goal
Developer: R&R Games
Platforms: iOS Universal
Based on a popular board game, 1st & Goal uses a combination of dice and cards to simulate the rough and tumble of American football. Opponents play cards to determine their offensive and defensive strategies and then dice are rolled to determine the outcome. The dice used will depend on the strategies selected. For instance, if the offensive team chooses a rushing play and their opponents choose a passing defence, then the offensive team will have a big advantage. You can play a one-off exhibition match, compete in the play-offs or embark on a full season. Whatever you decide you will get a game that sticks closely to its board game roots, with straightforward rules, together with tense bluff and double bluff gameplay.
Pro Strategy Football 2019
Developer: Pro Strategy Games
Platforms: iOS Universal
Considering its popularity, football of the American variety feels very under-represented in games. There are a few arcade-y options and of course EA is present with the usual free-to-play butchering of a great game in the absurdly titled Madden NFL Overdrive Football, but quality management games are few and far between.
The one serious choice is the Pro Strategy Football series, which once again delivered a very solid offering in its 2018 edition and has now evolved into the 2019 version. It’s a fun and playable coaching game but also accurate and realistic depending how deep you want to dive in. One of the best things about PSF is how flexible it is, so you can have a quick single match or a multi-season career and then on the field you play in beginner mode just choosing the type of play or expert mode in which you can micromanage every player’s role.
It’s a great game for novices who want to learn more about the complexities of gridiron and hardcore players who want to control every aspect of their team.
What would your list of the best sports strategy/management games on mobile look like? Let us know in the comments!