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Football Superstars

Interview: Will Football Superstars appeal to harcore gamers and football fans?

In just over a year registrations for CyberSports' football MMO have risen at an incredible rate with over 250,000 signed up and 2,000 now joining every day. It's not just the players getting involved either as lucrative in-game advertising deals with the likes of Nokia, PUMA and Reebok have secured the game's future as a free-to-play fixture in the sporting calendar.

Ali Wood chatted to Steve Marshall, creative director at CyberSports to find out why Football SuperStars is scoring with the fans.

From the stats we've seen, the growth in people playing Football SuperStars over the last year has risen at an impressive rate. What's the attraction?

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Marshall: Up until now, we've been pretty quiet about what we're doing, relying mostly on viral activity and word of mouth. But with our final touches in place we're making more noise about Football SuperStars.

We've seen that many of closed beta testers have chosen the FSS world to be their virtual home and spend valuable spare time within our world. Fans all over the world are extremely passionate about football and we've caught the imagination of hundreds of thousands of people by giving them an opportunity of realising their dream or simply spending time with like-minded individuals.

You say you want to appeal to both casual and hardcore gamers, how are you going to do that? And do you see FSS appealing to all ages and sexes?

Marshall: We created three games and knitted them together with the lifestyle world. 'Kickabouts' are pitches scattered around where players can setup friendly three or five-a-side matches. These games may be public or private, and time or goal restricted. Players grow their key football talent by playing these games, but receive no money or fame.

'FS Club' games allow players to join one of 14 teams at character creation and play up to 11-a-side 90-minute matches competitively, teams are rated using a modified Elo system in a four-week seasonal league, allowing us to run any number of matches 24/7.

The final system is the 'Player Managed Club', which allows a player to create their own club, recruit other players and challenge other managers in player-controlled tournaments. We'll be introducing automated and seasonal tournaments as well in future updates. These games require the players to organise the matches using our in-game features but will be a significant draw.

What's next for FSS' future?

Marshall: With patches planned at least every other month and larger releases every six months, we'll introduce additional activities on the pitch and in the lifestyle world to enhance the experience. From increasing the library of animation-specific skills, such as the overhead kick, to allowing players to buy status symbols and introducing a player-run transfer system. We've years of changes planned and will continue to release them to the community as time goes by.

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Do you feel at all nervous about SEGA unleashing Football Manager Live?

Marshall: Not at all, comparing Football Manager Live to FSS is akin to comparing a turn-based strategy fantasy game to a fantasy shooter. We do share some similarities, with FSS players are able to form their own teams with Player Managed Clubs, where they design their kit and recruit real people into their team, competing with them in their own leagues and tournaments comparable in many ways to a guild in MMORPGs. However, managers will be dealing with real players and not statistics, they may also have multiple squads playing at any given time.

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