APBA Soccer Query – July 31, 1996

APBA Soccer Letter 7-31-96

From The APBA Journal “Letters to the Editor,” July 31, 1996 issue.

(h/t to Vince Crystal at the APBA Games Facebook page for bringing this to my attention)

APBA Soccer?

After seeing the release of APBA’s new boxing game, I began to wonder if they had plans for a soccer game. Actually, I have been thinking of this game for a number of weeks before the boxing release, but have become even more curious of late.

I mean, if they think there is any sort of market for a boxing game, I don’t understand why they would not consider a soccer game as well.

I think that producing a soccer game might yield the most growth for the APBA Game Company– more than any other sport. Well, perhaps not in the States (as many articles in the AJ have stated they think soccer IS a “stupid” sport that provides no excitement), but I am sure it could be an instant hit in every other industrialized nation in the world.

Just think: Soccer is by far the most popular sport in the world and the market that might develop out of an excellent simulation game will provide APBA with extraordinary revenue for years to come. Furthermore, as many soccer critics hate to realize, soccer is becoming a decent sport in the U.S., with the newly founded MLS drawing full crowds every night.

Thus, I think it is time for APBA to develop a game that could grow and become perhaps the largest source of revenue for APBA. After developing a ~ game disk, APBA could introduce data disks based on European, North and South American, and Asian leagues. They could also provide disks on national teams. For example, market the U.S. World Cup ’94 or this year’s European Championships that are happening in England.

If the game becomes the hit I know it will be, APBA could produce data disks of past World Cups or league seasons. The potential is endless!

Steve Krull

APBA Journal’s response:
The AJ’s anti-soccer attitude was entirely the domain of Mike Bravard, our former leagues/CSN writer, who’s been gone since the end of the last World Cup. I don’t have any inherent problem with the game myself, though listening to radio broadcasts of San Jose Clash games while knowing only about five of their players (so that as often as not you don’t know which team’s in control of the ball) isn’t really my idea of a good time. (I’ve done it, once.)

But some problems with your idea: APBA chose to produce a boxing game only when they were offered an existing product, Title Fight, where both the game (which won a design award last year) and the developer, Jim Trunzo, had a strong reputation. It’d undoubtedly take an analogous situation to interest them in soccer.

Two difficulties come immediately to mind with your convincing APBA to buy or support a soccer game. One is that both APBA and its parent, MMI, are much more at home in the U.S. than in the international market, which is, as you note, where a soccer game would be stronger at present, and there’s very little incentive for this to change. It seems unlikely that they’d be able to sell large numbers of other APBA or MicroLeague games there if a soccer game caught on; there’s just not enough interest in baseball or American football in English-speaking countries overseas (Australian League baseball and the WLAF notwithstanding). And marketing in non-English-speaking countries would be more complicated, since good idiomatic translations of the screen text would be essential to the product’s success.

My second concern goes back to the question of what you’re trying to reproduce on the screen. A text game, in essence, produces an on-screen radio broadcast of a game. When you’re playing a text baseball, football, basketball or hockey game- or even boxing, if you were born in the 1950’s or earlier- you know what a radio report of a real game or match sounds like, and your impression of the product, assuming its results are believable, will very likely hinge on how well that report is imitated in the text.

But in the U.S., soccer’s an in-person or televised sport; as far as I know very few of its fans listen to it (in English, at least) on the radio. So the feeling of familiarity you get from a simulation that’s ‘done right’ will be hard or even impossible to attain.

None of which necessarily should stop you or any of our readers who are so inclined from approaching APBA on this.

Obviously, the more positive feedback they get, the more likely they are to come out with a product in response – or to approach one of the successful foreign developers (there are several out there, of whom Wizard Games of Scotland is probably best known in this country) and request an “APBA version.”

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