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Goalscorer – the football world’s most inclusive strategy game

When is a football game not a football game? interviews game designer Paul Carpenter about the origins of Goalscorer which combines 'speed chess' with soccer
Goalscorer – the football world’s most inclusive strategy game

Paul Carpenter is the designer and developer behind Goalscorer, a football (or soccer for our U.S. readers) game with a difference. Bringing together a strategy game approach and a 'speed chess' game mechanic, Paul's goal is to produce a truly inclusive football-themed game. Tell us a little about Goalscorer. How does it differ from a traditional football game?

Paul Carpenter: Goalscorer is based on the world’s first fully custom traditional format strategy game template called “Your Strategy Game”. It’s like speed chess with a football theme. It sounds like Goalscorer is aimed at a different audience from the arcade-style football titles on the market. Who is the game aimed at?

Paul Carpenter: Competitive casual gamers. The game is suitable for all ages, but it’s targeted mainly at the older (30+) casual gamer with an interest in football. We developed the game because many competitive videogames including esports are geared towards a younger audience where you can only be the best player when you’re an older child or younger adult. Goalscorer is inclusive, where older players can compete equally with younger players as dexterity and reaction times are not important. Can you tell us more about your studio and how you came to develop the game?

Paul Carpenter: It’s not a traditional game studio. The main focus of my business is to assess the ways in which gambling companies can better protect their customers from experiencing gambling harm. I do this personally by assessing gambling companies against the Safer Gambling Standard. I led the development of the standard while employed as the Head of Industry Services from 2018 at GamCare the leading gambling harms prevention charity. I became a Consultant to GamCare in 2021 and the development of the Goalscorer skill game has been funded to date by this consultancy work. How large is the Goalscorer team?

Paul Carpenter: Both myself and my programmer work part-time on the project. My daughter has promo experience and has supported us on the promotional side of things, and we have also begun working with other agencies on marketing and promotional work too. So Goalscorer is your first game. What challenges have you faced getting it to this stage?

Paul Carpenter: Getting game publishers to realise that there is a market for the older casual gamer beyond the traditional match-three type games and word games has been the biggest challenge. Also, games publishers have been focused more on hypercasual games until recently and our game doesn’t fit the criteria for hypercasual as it’s got attributes more familiar to the chess player.

The difference with our game is that while it is a skill game where the best players will usually win, there’s also an element of chance in our mechanic which means that a more experienced player can sometimes be beaten by a less experienced player. So “giant killings” can happen, like in cup matches in football. Our game is also easier and much quicker to play than chess. What stage are you at in the development cycle?

Paul Carpenter: We’ve soft-launched a couple of different versions on mobile to date, Goalscorer Training Edition and Goalscorer Tournament. Goalscorer Tournament was developed for and aimed at an 18+ audience. This version is asynchronous where players need to play against the same AI opponent. It has some limitations not present in the original game such as a more complex scoring system and an overdependence on AI.

We haven’t ruled out improving Goalscorer Tournament in future, but for now, we’ve decided to focus on further developing the original Goalscorer Training Edition game and promoting true player versus player gaming. Goalscorer Training Edition is a free-play demo version of the game we want to develop called Goalscorer Premier.

We’ve made a lot of changes to the Goalscorer Training Edition game recently based on feedback received from earlier demo versions. Changes include the addition of a How to Play Tutorial section and Leaderboard functionality. The latest version of Goalscorer Training Edition is now available to download and play for free on the App Store and Google Play. We still regard Goalscorer Training Edition as a demo game and a step in the direction of the Premier version we’d like to publish. What are your goals (sorry) for the game?

Paul Carpenter: We would like to partner with a games publisher and/or intelligent investor(s) so we can develop the version of the game with the most potential which we are calling Goalscorer Premier. We’d also like to see different versions of the game mechanic on different themes to add to the football theme.

PG,biz: How do you intend to develop the game concept further?

Paul Carpenter: First, we’d like as many people as possible to try out the Goalscorer Training Edition game and provide feedback. We’re also offering to donate small cash prizes to the chosen football team (amateur or school team preferred) or registered charity of the top 3 players in the game’s Monthly Random Match Leaderboard until at least the end of 2023.

We regard the game as a website template that can be customised in many different ways. For example, football teams at all levels of the game, and other companies interested in having a fantasy team in the future commercial premier version of the game, could potentially benefit from revenues generated from different features within the game.

We also want to make the most of a feature in the game called the Star Player. The Star Player is the key counter in Goalscorer. The Star Player on each team in the game could be a representation of a footballer or another person (past or present), but there are many other ways in which we could use the Star Player counter. So, developing a market for limited edition Star Players is something we are looking at.

We’d like to see a range of different versions of the ‘Your Strategy Game’ template including the Goalscorer Premier game with better graphics, sound, and leaderboard functionality for both mobile and PC. Other game themes could include different sports, and other themes such as medieval or sci-fi. Above all we want to deliver the ultimate ‘chess-like’ gaming experience for the casual gamer where anyone can be a top player regardless of age, and you don’t need to be a grandmaster to be the best. Finally - who is the cartoon character that can be seen on screens within the game?

Paul Carpenter: That’s The Founder, an alien creature from a race where someone’s skin colour, race, sex and age are viewed as irrelevant. The Founder complements the ‘inclusive’ theme of our game.

Goalscorer Training Edition is available for free on mobile in the App Store and Google Play.