Game On! Eastside Hockey Manager Returns

You know, if you’re longing for deeper, stat-heavy, party-managing RPGs, you might not go far wrong with a sports management sim. Beneath the sporting veneer lie all the tactics, behaviours, and numbers you could hope for. Sports games are other games in disguise. I was only taking the piss a little bit with that FIFA demo post calling it real-time tactical action, you know. Football Manager has a fair few fans here at RPS, and now its makers are getting back into ice hockey.

Developers Sports Interactive have revived the long-dormant Eastside Hockey Manager series [official site] with a surprise new game which launched onto Steam Early Access today.

Eastside Hockey Manager started as a freeware game before Sports Interactive picked it up and worked their Football Manager-style magic. However, they only released two games, in 2004 and 2006 for the 2005 and 2007 hockey seasons, before SI and publishers Sega iced the series. Now it’s back, they explain:

“At that time we were not only badly affected by piracy, we were also hit by the way retail used to work, particularly in the US. Boxed copies of the game would fly off the shelves in places where hockey was popular, but would languish in places where it wasn’t – and there was no system in place for those boxes to be shifted from one State to another. Steam wasn’t anywhere near as popular back then as it is now, so we didn’t have a digital solution to this problem like we do now.”

SI explain that they’ve been working on Eastside Hockey Manager in “what little spare time we have”, and are turning to Early Access to pay for hiring new folks to help out. They’re hoping that it’ll also prove the series is viable and let them land licenses for leagues and go ahead with annualised sequels.

They expect EHM to be in Early Access mode for “months, not years” while they polish it up and add a few features. This version’s using ‘fake’ data (because licenses), but it has support to import user-created databases even from older EHM games.

EHM will cost you £9.99 on Steam right now. That price will go up as development progresses.

24 Comments

  1. Fumarole says:

    I don’t know about this: management sims leave me cold.

  2. Premium User Badge

    X_kot says:

    What synchronicity! Here I was lamenting my thorough lack of foot-to-ball acumen in Football Manager, but now there is a game where I can finally wallow in my puck-to-stick knowledge. Five holes, diamond formations, and dump-and-chase!

    • Serial Breaker says:

      And for me I wanted to see if my love of managing pushing sphere on grass to pass a white line sports team could work in a sports I don’t have a clue about how it work but look cool to watch

    • Orffen says:

      Not a personal recommendation, but check out Franchise Hockey Manager by the same guys who do Out of the Park Baseball.

  3. RabbitIslandHermit says:

    I feel like I would really enjoy sports management games if I knew anything whatsoever about sports.

  4. Premium User Badge

    Hammer says:

    Still holding out for Rugby Manager. It’s the only way I’ll see Scotland win the Six Nations and the World Cup…

    • Zankman says:

      On Steam you have Pro Rugby Manager 2015 & Rugby Union Team Manager 2015.

      According to the reviews, the former is horrid while the latter is passable (due to no better options).

  5. P.Funk says:

    L’hockey! Finally a management sim for a sport I know in my bones.

  6. Freud says:

    It’s hard to figure out what they are doing, but it seems to me it’s EHM 2007 they’ll tinker with and it’s not a new game. That’s what it seems like from the screenshots.

    If it’s not a engine upgrade, do we really need this? You can already import up to date databases for EHM 2007.

    • P.Funk says:

      Well by reading the language it seems like it should be not terribly different but the goal is to gain enough support to end up working it into a new iteration worthy of a new title and price to go with it.

      A kind of project tailor made for people who actually understand the volatile and risky nature of backing Kickstarter projects.

  7. ulix says:

    I agree with the “real-time tactical action” monicker for (team-based) sports games. I sometimes play Fifa and/or PES, not much else. But they are some of the most complex games out there. Which is bewildering, considering the audience they reach.

    The tactics are incredibly complex, but even more complex is the control scheme. In fact it is more complex than in ANY other non-Sim (other team-based sports-games excluded, of course). When every button on the joypad (I grew up in the 90s) has at least two functions, and there’s one, in some cases even two buttons that modify each function, giving every button 4-6 functions… well. I’m often overwhelmed.

    I don’t use like 50%+ of the actions I could use in Fifa and PES, just because it’s so complex.

    • ulix says:

      And of course those buttons have different functions for different (non standard-attack and non standard-defence) situations like free-kick or corner-kick as well… giving every button maybe 10 or more functions…

      • BooleanBob says:

        Do you have a Wii or Wii U? You might want to check out one of the Pro Evo games for it. It’s one of the surprisingly few cases where the ability to use the Wiimote as a pointer completely revolutionised a genre, because most of the things you want to do in the five-seconds-from-now tactical window are vastly easier to accomplish when you can point – ‘run over here’, ‘place the shot into this corner of the net’, ‘play the ball into this channel’ – as opposed to trying to judge and weight the same commands on an analogue stick. Really nails that satisfying tactical-action feel that sports games are the kings of.

    • draglikepull says:

      When I play EA’s NHL games I know and use pretty much all of the button combos, but in FIFA I don’t even know what half of the controls are.

  8. Shinan says:

    I played a lot of the freeware Eastside Hockey Manager back in the days and this is a series I’ve really wanted back for a while. So I hope something good’ll come of it.

  9. skyturnedred says:

    Since I spent more time in GM mode than actually playing playing any games, this was an instant buy.

  10. Phinor says:

    Don’t get blinded by the low price, this is an excellent game even if it’s just EHM2007 with upgrades mostly under the hood. The upgrades are pretty crucial to improving the 8+ year old game. In 8 years, you do come up with few issues. Obviously there are still some issues I’d like to see changed/fixed, such as the window resolution but even as it is, it’s a great game made better.

    Also EHM2007 isn’t really available anymore and actually having the game in Steam makes a pretty big difference. No more e-license issues with limited activations and all that crap we had to suffer 10 years ago. The community has kept the game alive for years but I can imagine things getting even better now with this new exposure and the fact that they basically added better support for mods and 3rd party data.

  11. raiders5000 says:

    What a great article. The timing of it is impeccable. I was looking for a hockey sim like my FM15 or OOTP16. Didn’t find anything I liked. Finally decided to do the NHL 04 Rebuilt Mod last night. Now I wake up to find this tidbit. I’m definitely gonna try this out. Thanks, RPS. BOOM!

    • Zankman says:

      Did you try Franchise Hockey Manager, by OOTP Developments?

      Also, what is the NHL 04 Rebuilt Mod?

  12. Warduke says:

    Awesome news! Was just looking for my old copy the other day lamenting that there wasn’t an updated version. Score!!