Sports games developers have spent decades aspiring to be the next FIFA or PES, but with the rise of New Star Soccer and Rocket League things are coming full circle – back to the days when individual genii such as Dino Dini (Kick Off) and Jon Hare (Sensible Soccer) could compete with the big guys. Hare has a new game, Sociable Soccer, out imminently and confirms that Psyonix's driving-footy hybrid has been a major source of inspiration.
"There's a huge gaping gap in the football game market, particularly on mobile, Switch and other smaller platforms – where it is a struggle to squeeze a game built for AAA console with controllers onto a small device with a touchscreen," says Hare. "Regarding some of the other smaller arcade football games in Steam, we see our game as having similar AA aspirations as Rocket League and we plan to price our game accordingly. We would happily be thought of as “Rocket League with boots".
This gap in the market comes, Hare says, as a result of the big two's inevitable focus on trying to mimic what you see watching Sky on a Sunday afternoon. "I think of FIFA and PES as pretty much the same thing as each other," he explains. "Great games that are long in the tooth, TV realistic, relatively slow simulations, often with amazing licenses. In many respects they are also retro to the time when TV realism became cool and neither has brought anything substantially new to the table for a long time… We are a straight arcade-style football game and that is where our competition lies."
Hare spoke to GamesRadar+ ahead of Sociable Soccer's original 12 October release date – but a last minute hitch has seen it put back a week.
"We’ve been working non-stop for the last few months getting Sociable Soccer ready for Steam Early Access," said co-developers Combo Breaker and Tower Studios in a statement. "Unfortunately we have hit a last minute bump in the road which means that Sociable Soccer will sadly not be released today on Steam. We can say with confidence, though, that Sociable Soccer will now be coming to Early Access next week. The team is extremely disappointed that you won’t be able to play the game today but feel the wait will be worth it."
Can't wait? Then be sure to check out the 11 best current football games that aren’t called FIFA or PES.
Sociable Soccer is released for Steam before the end of October. Read our full chat with Jon Hare, including his reasons for leaving Sensible Soccer behind, right here.