The challenge with putting out an annual franchise is that the development cycle is painfully short so big changes and improvements tend to lag a bit. You’re so busy working on getting a game out that factoring in feedback is a challenge unless you’ve already planned to integrate it in the next game. Look at the plethora of EA Sports games on an annual release cycle or the complaints of stagnating Call of Duty when they were on a two-year development cycle.
That brings us to Franchise Hockey Manager 3, the first FHM game released in its new annual release schedule. While Out of the Park Developments made big changes from 2013’s Franchise Hockey Manager to 2015’s FHM2, they didn’t have time to overhaul that game’s issues in time for 2016’s FHM3.
When I was in university, the one game that we played religiously was the latest EA Sports NHL games. Sure, it’s not the best investment of money because the games are largely the same year-to-year but we still all loved playing (and trash-talking). Being a fan of Football Manager, I also gave Sega’s hockey management sim Eastside Hockey Manager a try but was a broke college student so I was limited to the free trial. That and you could cheat your way to the Memorial Cup by literally buying players from other junior teams so where’s the fun in that.
Now, there’s a new player in the sports management sim genre. Out of the Park Developments, who also make the popular Out of the Park series of baseball sims, is getting into the world of hockey with Franchise Hockey Manager. How have they handled the transition from grass and bats and chewing tobacco to ice and skates and stitches on the bench?