Great Sports Management Games That Are Not Football Manager (2024)

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Great Sports Management Games That Are Not Football Manager (1)

By David Heath

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Great Sports Management Games That Are Not Football Manager (5)

It’s hard to think of a sports management game without thinking of Football Manager. If people aren’t thinking of that series, they’re thinking of its predecessor, Championship Manager, where players also picked a soccer team and tried to get them to the top of the league table.

They've inspired a series of urban legends and tales that have entertained fans, be it about athletes who were better in the game than in real life, or ones that never actually existed, to begin with. But soccer isn’t the only sport, and Football Manager isn’t the only sports management sim game around. There's a wealth of management sims based on other sports, and these are the best of the bunch.

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Updated on July 6, 2024, by David Heath: There are still plenty of sports management sims out there, though some are better than others. Not every game can be Football Manager quality, even if they're covering other sports. But wherever there's a sport, there's a management sim of it somewhere.

For example, this update offers a few more intriguing games to join the ranks of motorsport, e-sports, rugby league, pro-wrestling, MMA, and boxing management sims, among others. From college ball to horse racing, they're an eclectic mix of games that should offer something for everyone.

26 Eastside Hockey Manager

Metacritic User Score: 7.5

Great Sports Management Games That Are Not Football Manager (7)
Eastside Hockey Manager

Platform(s)
Microsoft Windows

Released
December 1, 2015

Developer(s)
Sports Interactive
Genre(s)
Simulation , Sports

Like Football Manager, Eastside Hockey Manager began life as a side project, only it came out a decade later as freeware for the PC and Mac. The game was made by Risto Remes and his team in 2001, and they gave gamers 3,000 players and staff from the NHL to create their teams, and a near-infinite number of seasons to take them to the top.

The game caught the eye of Sports Interactive, who helped create every subsequent game in the series. It was also officially licensed by the NHL until NHL Eastside Hockey Manager 2007, which had 3,000 teams and 20 different leagues. But the series then went on hiatus and lost the NHL license. They'd bounce back with 2015's Eastside Hockey Manager, which had more in-depth mechanics, extra options, multiplayer, realistic physics, and AI.

25 Rugby League Team Manager 3

GM Games User Score: 8.9

Great Sports Management Games That Are Not Football Manager (8)
  • Developer: Alternative Software
  • Released: April 2020
  • Platforms: PC, Mac

Many great game developers have long since gone defunct. Core Design, the company behind the original Tomb Raider games, is no more. Sensible Software, who made the almighty Sensible World of Soccer, is also gone. Yet Alternative Software Ltd, who started off making maligned budget games based on British kids' shows like Count Duckula and Postman Pat, are still around today.

They've made some much better-received games over the decades, with the Ruby League Team Manager series getting plaudits. The best entry, RLTM3, brought in a new in-game engine that brought in new seasons, leagues, tactical options, ways to negotiate player sales, and more. There are a lot of players too: 7,000 all across the world. If anyone wanted to dive into the deep end of the NFL's European predecessor, RLTM3 is as deep as it gets.

24 Legend Bowl

Metacritic User Score: 8.0

Great Sports Management Games That Are Not Football Manager (9)
Legend Bowl
Platform(s)
Nintendo Switch , PS5 , PS4 , Microsoft Windows , Xbox Series X/S

Released
November 27, 2020

Developer
Super Pixel Games, Top Hat Studios
Genre(s)
Sports , Simulation , Strategy

But what if rugby just doesn't have the same appeal to some people as American Football? It lacks the helmets, pageantry, and nostalgia that the gridiron games have. After all, the NES had Tecmo Bowl, not Tecmo Rugby. Luckily, Super Pixel Games has those fans covered with Legend Bowl. It's akin to its rival Retro Bowl in that both replicate their old-school predecessors with their 16-bit-like graphics.

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However, Legend Bowl also offers a Franchise Mode that allows players to pick their team, players, and coaches, and infinite seasons to take them to the titular Legend Bowl. They'll have to keep on top of the in-game news, player traits, training, events, and more to get the most out of their team. Players can also customize their team's appearance and play in realistic weather conditions. The game has since branched out from the PC to current-gen consoles, including the Switch. So it's a good time to get into the game.

GM Games User Score: 9

Great Sports Management Games That Are Not Football Manager (11)
  • Developer: Achi Jones
  • Release: December 2022
  • Platform: PC

Starting off in the big leagues is fine and dandy, but some players might prefer to go to where it all begins: college football. Football Coach: College Dynasty puts the player in charge of either an established college or a fresh school seeking to make a name for itself. They can recruit players fresh from high school or junior college (with a scholarship or other perks to sweeten the deal), and develop them during the off-season to get a head start on the competition.

With plenty of customizable rules, leagues, and 100+ offensive/defensive plays, there are all sorts of ways for players to level up their teams. The more levels they gain, the more unique skills the coach gains. Then, the more they earn, the more they can spend on updating the school's facilities, marketing, academic resources, etc. They can turn their struggling school into an athletic powerhouse through decades of in-game play, assuming they can make the right calls.

22 ZenGM

GM Games User Score: 8.5

Great Sports Management Games That Are Not Football Manager (12)
  • Developer: Jeremy Scheff
  • Release: 2008
  • Platform: PC, Mac, smartphone web browsers

Money can't buy happiness, though it can help. But if cash is pressing, this free sports management sim only requires an internet-capable device and a web browser. ZenGM offers management sims for basketball, football, baseball, and ice hockey all for free. There are mo microtransactions, pay-to-win mechanics, or in-game purchases. Players don't even need to make an account to log in and play. They just go to ZenGM.com, pick their game, and start playing.

Being a completely free game, it's pretty basic compared to big PC/console counterparts. Though considering this game has all been made by one person over 16 years, it's an impressive feat. The games hit a sweet spot between being in-depth (Basketball GM offers seasons as far back as 1947) and easy to understand, with user-friendly interfaces. The four main games have been updated regularly over the years, but for fun, players can play the original, older versions of the games on the website too. They can even customize these games via the website's own in-built 'God Mode'.

21 Starters Orders 7

GM Games User Score: 9

Great Sports Management Games That Are Not Football Manager (13)
  • Developer: Strategic Designs
  • Release: May 2019
  • Platform: PC

Strategic Designs is an interesting development company. They're most famous for the Starters Orders series, where players manage their own racehorse stable. But their website also offers Greyhound Manager 2 Rebooted, a remake of their dog racing management sim, and Eat, Sleep, Bet, Repeat, where players can learn just what it was like to be an unemployed punk addicted to gambling in a dreary British seaside town in 1986. Make sharp bets on football and horse racing to make the most of state benefits ('the dole'), or it's game over.

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But living in the past isn't a sport. Horse racing is, and Starters Orders 7 is perhaps the best and most realistic sim of the sport on the market. Players can buy, breed, train, and bet on their own horses (or others), which come complete with their own lineages and records to determine their worth. Then they can send horses off to the races, including top-level competitions like the Grand National. If players don't want to simulate the spectacle, they can take control of the jockeys and race them themselves.

20 WBSC eBaseball Power Pros

GameFAQs Score: 3.5/5 Stars

Great Sports Management Games That Are Not Football Manager (15)
WBSC eBaseball Power Pros
Platform(s)
Nintendo Switch , PS4

Released
February 8, 2023
Developer(s)
Konami
Genre(s)
Sports , Simulation

WBSC eBaseball Power Pros isn't strictly about management, as its release was essentially Konami testing the Western waters to see if they'd like their Power Pros baseball series, which has been entertaining Japanese and mainland Asian players since the NES days. This is why the graphics have an old-school look that resembles a cleaned-up N64 game.

It has an extensive customizable team editor option that lets players build the perfect team, along with adjustable controls. The game can be either as simple as an arcade game or as complex as the MLB games with just a few options. There's a decent tutorial for newbies, along with plenty of offline, online, and multiplayer modes. Best of all, it only costs $1! It's a good deal for casual and hardcore baseball fans alike.

19 Mario Superstar Baseball

Metascore: 76

Great Sports Management Games That Are Not Football Manager (16)
Mario Superstar Baseball
Platform(s)
GameCube

Released
July 21, 2005

Developer(s)
Namco , Nintendo SPD
Genre(s)
Sports , Simulation

There have been rumors about Nintendo making a new Mario-themed baseball game for a while now. The Italian plumber and his friends haven't picked up a bat since Super Mario Sluggers on the Wii in 2008. That game was fair, albeit a bit of a wagglefest with the motion controls. So, fans might prefer its Gamecube predecessor, Mario Superstar Baseball, which came with a few light management options.

It's aimed at a casual crowd with its power-ups, Bob-ombs, and party-style mini-games. However, it does have a Chemistry mechanic. Teammates will play differently depending on whether they're partnered up with someone they like, dislike, or are neutral about. So, players have to be careful who they pick, or they might put themselves at a disadvantage.

GM Games User Score: 8

Great Sports Management Games That Are Not Football Manager (17)
  • Developer: Sports Mogul
  • Released: September 2023
  • Platforms: PC

While eBaseball and Mario Superstar Baseball focus more on the sport than the management, the Football Mogul games are all management. They're probably the closest fans can get to an NFL Manager game, as the series has allowed players to be the owner, head coach, or general manager of an NFL team since the original 1999 game. Created by Sports Mogul, the game uses text boxes, diagrams, and pictures to simulate the management experience.

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Players can handle everything from free-agent signings and draft picks to editing playbooks and making play calls. The latest entry, Football Mogul 24, updates things for the 2023/2024 season, including 270+ projected college roster picks. That's alongside an expanded historical database covering 72 years of football history. Whether players want to rewrite the past or create a new future, Football Mogul 24 has it all.

17 Out Of The Park Baseball Series

GM Games User Score: 9

Great Sports Management Games That Are Not Football Manager (19)
Out Of The Park Baseball
Platform(s)
Microsoft Windows , Linux , macOS

Released
March 24, 2023

Developer
Out of the Park Developments
Genre(s)
Sports

The Out of the Park Baseball series has been the premier baseball management sim since its first installment in 1999. The 2007 edition even managed to beat the legendary Orange Box on Metacritic. Then it had a brief stint under Football Manager creators Sports Interactive but has since been published by developers Out of the Park Developments directly.

The series has received official licensing from both Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball since OOTP 2016, so fans can now pick out their favorite players to make their team the best in the world. Each game was well received by fans, improving with each entry, until OOTP 2024 proved a little rough around the edges. Until it gets some improvements, it may be best to seek out older entries like OOTP 2021.

16 Tennis Elbow Manager 2

GM Games User Score: 8.4

Great Sports Management Games That Are Not Football Manager (20)
Tennis Elbow Manager 2

Platform(s)
Microsoft Windows , macOS

Released
June 2, 2021

Developer
Mana Games

Genre(s)
Simulation , Sport

If swinging for the fences isn’t a player’s thing, maybe helping a future ace master their lobs and backhands will be more to their liking. In Tennis Elbow Manager 2, players can train up to 9 athletes, build up their skills, gain sponsors, and more as they try to produce the world’s #1 player.

They can stick to the traditional text-based action, or watch their players’ matches in real-time 3D. That, or play as them directly if they don’t trust the AI. Though it’s solid enough as developers Mana Games got real tennis players in to help get things just right. The game’s available on Steam and is considered to be one of the best tennis sims around if not the best overall.

15 Retro Bowl

Metascore: 84

Great Sports Management Games That Are Not Football Manager (21)
Retro Bowl
Platform(s)
Nintendo Switch , iOS , Android

Released
January 1, 2020

Developer
New Star Games
Genre(s)
Sports , Simulation

If Legend Bowl and Football Mogul don't offer enough touchdowns and shoulder pads, Retro Bowl has their back. New Star Games’ tribute to Tecmo Bowl gives players a simple but extensive take on American Football. Players can only control the offensive team, but they can manage defensive players among other options. They can draft, trade, and cut players, sign any tempting-looking free agents, and boost morale to make their team the best around.

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It was originally a mobile game on iOS and Android, so there are extra perks if players cough up an additional $1. For example, players can edit their uniforms, logos, etc., to resemble their favorite teams. That, or create completely new ones if those NFL teams feel old hat. The game is also available on the Nintendo Switch if players would rather pick up a Joycon than their smartphone.

14 F1 Manager 2023

Metascore: 79

Great Sports Management Games That Are Not Football Manager (23)
F1 Manager 2023
Platform(s)
PC , PS4 , PS5 , Xbox One , Xbox Series X , Xbox Series S

Released
July 31, 2023
Developer(s)
Frontier Developments

Genre(s)
Strategy , Management

There are many racing games based on Formula 1, but there aren’t many management games based on it. EA Sports and Intelligent Games tried one out in 1999 with F1 Manager to middling reviews. They didn’t try again for 23 years when Frontier Developments gave it another shot with F1 Manager 2022, which essentially built upon F1 2020's My Career option.

Players could customize their cars, get new parts, and work with engineers based on real F1 staff to organize their pacing and pit stops to stay in pole position per race. The sequel, F1 Manager 2023, has all the same features, but with some new tracks like the Las Vegas Strip Circuit, and a race replay for players to see their favorite moments from the season. It's still supported by Frontier too, though PC players aren't likely keen on the Denuvo anti-tamper tech they included in the game.

13 Motorsport Manager

Metascore: 81

Great Sports Management Games That Are Not Football Manager (24)
Motorsport Manager
Platform(s)
Nintendo Switch , Linux , Microsoft Windows , iOS , macOS

Released
August 21, 2014

Developer
Playsport Games
Genre(s)
Simulation , Sports , Strategy

F1 Manager 2022 was one of the stronger motorsport management games until Frontier Developments suddenly stopped supporting the game 2 months after its release. It took fan backlash to keep the updates coming, and Frontier is still supporting its sequel. But things were smoother for its elder rival, Motorsport Manager.

The game has received consistent updates and a range of DLC since its original release in 2017. It lets players develop their cars, and appoint drivers and engineers to get ahead. However, they have to be careful, as it'll throw in the odd curveball to test players' skills and in-game reputation. Each port is solid, but the PC and Switch versions are arguably the best with their extra tracks and exclusive circuits.

12 Open Wheel Manager 2

Steam Score: 8/10

Great Sports Management Games That Are Not Football Manager (25)
  • Developer: Paprikash Games
  • Released: October 2023
  • Platform: PC

While it's not the prettiest-looking game in the world, Open Wheel Manager 2 aims to be the best F1 racing management game. Players have to invest in the best drivers, mechanics, and cars to create the ultimate racing team. With the right sponsorships and strategies, they can make a strong car that can put their name on the game's digital map.

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Players can use the 3D features to watch over their performance and see where they can improve their strategy, or simply watch as their plan comes together. If they're really confident, they can start off right with a top-tier team and see if they can keep them that way. Otherwise, they start right from the bottom and build their legacy from scratch, watching their team gradually go from contenders to champions.

11 Pro Cycling Manager 2022

Steam Score: 9/10

Great Sports Management Games That Are Not Football Manager (27)
Pro Cycling Manager 2022
Platform(s)
PC

Released
June 9, 2022
Developer(s)
Cyanide Studio
Genre(s)
Simulation , Racing , Sports

Racing in a car can be impressive, though it's not quite as physical as cycling. Cyanide has been making Cycling Manager games since 2001, with the intent of replicating what goes into preparing for a professional cycling race, including the world-famous Tour de France, where cyclists pass through the Pyrenees and Alps to reach the Champs-Élysées in Paris.

The latest game is Pro Cycling Manager 2023, though the best is arguably Pro Cycling Manager 2022. It brought in a new scouting system for the player to build up their team, which would improve the further they went into the game. The new riders would also develop more dynamically through training, with more varied tracks and stats making a bigger impact on play. It's a PC exclusive, and available via Steam.

10 Teamfight Manager

Steam Score: 9/10

Great Sports Management Games That Are Not Football Manager (28)
Teamfight Manager
Platform(s)
Microsoft Windows , Nintendo Switch , iOS

Released
March 1, 2021

Developer
Team Samoyed
Genre(s)
Simulation , Indie Games , Strategy , Sports

Here’s a meta entry: a game where the player manages a team of other video game players. Created by Team Samoyed, Teamfight Manager has players create their own eSport team for matches in a 16-bit take on DOTA. They can pick or ban champions to produce the best combo, then use Training Points to boost one stat or another to make them play better.

They can also upgrade their training center facilities, change their gear, and provide new equipment to keep them strong and happy. Then they can take on the AI or fight their friends in 1v1 battles or 10-player scrums. So, it’s not a bad choice to pep up one’s collection on PC, macOS, and the Nintendo Switch.

9 Astonishing Basketball Manager

GM Games User Score: 8.2

Great Sports Management Games That Are Not Football Manager (29)
Astonishing Basketball Manager
Platform(s)
iOS , Microsoft Windows , Android

Released
December 15, 2020

Developer
Aerilys, Astonishing Sports, Studio Zero, Zero Games S.A.S.
Genre(s)
Simulation , Strategy , Sports

For basketball fans, there's Astonishing Basketball Manager, a mobile game that made the leap to PC. It certainly sounds astonishing too, as the game gives the player a life beyond working out tactics, picking players, and switching up strategies. They might have to figure out how to feed their team if the cook gets sick, deal with their players' concerns in real-time via their messages, and take on a rival manager.

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The game wants players to create their own life story on the way to winning the Legend Cup. They can still swap out tired players, arrange time-outs, check the rankings and fan reactions, and do everything a basketball coach does. There are just extra story options for flavor, like helping smaller, local teams, becoming a rock star, and finding romance. Odd as it is, it's a step up from the infamous Livin' Da Dream mode in NBA 2K16.

8 Draft Day Sports: Pro Basketball 2023

GM Games User Score: 9.4

Great Sports Management Games That Are Not Football Manager (31)
  • Developer: Wolverine Studios
  • Released: November 2022
  • Platform: PC

Wolverine Studios' Draft Day Sports franchise has covered all sorts of sports from Pro and College Football to Pro Golf. But their best-rated game was Draft Day Sports: Pro Basketball 2023. It doesn't have the background story options seen in Astonishing Basketball Manager, as the only story that needs telling is the one on the court.

The player picks their favorite team and then tries to reach the top of the league by drafting and trading teammates, hiring the best free agents, and plotting out the team's strategy for their next game. DDS: PB23 lets digital GMs run press conferences, play fantasy basketball, and get rewards for good decision-making. As humble as it looks, its 2D gameplay arguably offers the best basketball management game around on PC.

7 Total Extreme Wrestling 2020

GM Games Score: 9.2

Great Sports Management Games That Are Not Football Manager (32)
Total Extreme Wrestling 2020

Platform(s)
Microsoft Windows

Released
June 1, 2020

Developer
Grey Dog Software

Genre(s)
Simulation , Strategy

The WWE games have had one GM Mode or another based on running their flagship shows since the PS2 days. Still, their take on the world of pro wrestling is too squeaky clean. Where are the TV deal and sponsorship negotiations? The referees and other staff that promoters need to keep things running? The prima donna wrestlers throwing spanners into the works at the last minute? Total Extreme Wrestling has all that and more.

Since its original incarnation as Extreme Warfare in 1995, the series has received intermittent new releases. Total Extreme Wrestling 2020 is regarded as the best of the bunch, but can only be downloaded directly from Grey Dog Software's website. The action is told all through text and stats but has plenty of options to keep people on their toes. Players can book their storylines, assign gimmicks to their wrestlers, and work out their foibles in the name of TV ratings.

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