Out of the retro shadows comes a spiritual successor to one of the most loved football games of all times, Sociable Soccer, brought to you by Jon Hare the co-creator of Sensible Software and games such as Sensible Soccer, Sensible Train Spotting, Cannon Fodder and many more. Jon has founded Tower Studios an independent game studio whose past releases include The Bitmap Brothers’ Speedball 2, Word Explorer and Vivid Games’ Shoot to kill on mobile devices, Steam, Mac and PlayStation Plus.
Sociable Soccer has a different take on traditional football (Soccer to any readers in America) games, like FIFA or Pro Evolution Soccer, coming from a top down camera angle the game focuses more on the fast paced action in the game then getting player’s likeness correct, the ball pings about like it’s on a pinball table whilst giving the players 100% control of the ball.
I personally saw Sociable Soccer for the first time in late 2016 at Play Expo Blackpool, when the game was 30% complete, and the buzz around the game was incredible with people that played the Sensible Soccer games getting excited to see something similar being created whilst also peaking the interests of the younger generation with a new football game to compete with the bigger names, be it kids whose parents had encouraged them to play the Sensible Software games or those bored of the same old games coming out year on year. The draw for me was that strong that I attended Play Expo London earlier this year just to see for myself how far along the game had come.
The difference over the past 18 months or so was incredible; huge graphic upgrades, curved passes, lob passes, curved shots, updated goalkeeper animations, red and yellow cards and of course the referee. During this time there has been an early access release on Steam (you can view the trailer here) with planned updates to happen as the game developers however in December time the project ran low on money so new revenue streams were pursued including meeting with publishers who will be able to fund the next stage of development.
Sociable Soccer will be released on PC, Xbox, PlayStation, Android and Apple devices with Online Multiplayer and even cross platform multiplayer being something that is being pursued, however this all needs money to help push it forward which is why the exciting news in early August about a link up with a multi-billion dollar Chinese company China Mobile will have followers of the game getting excited especially those who purchased the game on Steam. The development of the game has rightly turned to the Chinese Mobile App version of the game to get that ready for release, it’s a huge deal for Sociable Soccer and means it’s one of the first games ever to release in the Chinese market before the markets in the west.
I’ve been fortunate to play the Chinese version of the game and what’s exciting about it is it looks and plays exactly the same as the Steam version, it’s something I could see people purchasing across different devices so they can continue playing on the move, the interesting thing to see would be if the team behind Sociable Soccer have considered some way of being able to have your stats combine across multiple devices.
On the Chinese version of the game you will have a choice of two different controllers either a floating joystick controlled on the left of the screen with three buttons on the right for shooting, lob pass and pass or you have choose to have the floating joystick on the left and an open screen on the right when you will click for a pass and hold for a shot, this option means you won’t be able to lob pass, having both options gives the players the choice in how they want to control the game, with myself preferring to have the three buttons.
Another feature of the app is a link in to the Chinese Super League, the first game to have the tie in with the CSL, it includes all players and teams from the CSL including Guangzhou Everglade, Hebei CFFC, Javier Mascherano, Paulinho, Hulk and Oscar to name just a few. It also has a card based feature where you start with a CSL team that has team made up of lower quality players and you have to collect cards to build a better team, you can sell the cards or eat them into another card to improve a player. The Chinese version of the game is being beta tested currently with between 5000 and 10000 players across China.
Speaking to Gustav Hedenborg – Sociable’ s Community Manager at Play Expo in London he said:
“The whole team are disappointed we haven’t been able to update the PC version, but unfortunately we need to work on the version of the game that will bring in money to enable to realise the full potential of the game, at the moment that is the Chinese Version of the game but we are still working on updates for the PC version, we’ve even been trying out some ways of putting online multiplayer into the game. The question I get asked most across social media is when the game is coming to consoles, and we really wanted that to be available already but we have meetings lined up at Gamescom and beyond to discuss deals with publishers that will propel us forward with our goal have the best football game on multiple platforms.”
On August 28th Sociable Soccer was featured in a Guardian list of 6 of the best football video games, which considering the game is far from the complete article this is a great accolade to have, I know lots of people will be watching for updates with bated breath, I know I am.