Gaming legend Kevin Toms on bringing back Football Manager for mobile

The veteran game developer talked about the two new takes on his classic football management sim

Gaming legend Kevin Toms on bringing back Football Manager for mobile

If you’re a veteran game aficionado, the name Kevin Toms is probably already familiar to you. Toms has had a seismic influence on the gaming landscape being the programmer responsible for the original Football Manager which launched on multiple home computer formats back in 1982, a franchise that now boasts millions of players and hugely successful versions across mobile, PC and console.

While Toms recently took an extended break from game development, he’s been taking a look back at the most significant game of his career, first with Kevin Toms Football * [pronounced “star”] Manager on Android and iOS, and is all set to go beyond a mere re-boot (no pun intended) with Kevin Toms Football Game.

We caught up with Toms at Pocket Gamer Connects Helsinki 2023 to find out more about his new games and the appeal of mobile. You need very little introduction we think…

Kevin Toms: Well, I’m well known for writing the original Football Manager game many years ago on the likes of the Sinclair ZX81, the Spectrum and things like that. It was the first football management game created, so it’s the founder of the genre.

And you’ve recently brought it to mobile in a remake as Kevin Toms Football * Manager?

Yeah, people online had been very enthusiastic about me creating a mobile version of my original game. So I set about writing that, I was already a mobile developer so I just put two and two together and it came out really well. People like it a lot and some have played hundreds of seasons on the game already.

What makes mobile such an appealing platform for this?

That’s pretty easy to answer - it’s very similar to the way I started. You can publish yourself and you’ve got complete creative control. It’s very much like when I first wrote Football Manager. I was an independent developer just working out myself how to do things, and this was doing the same thing again, writing it all myself.

And you’ve also brought a full-fledged follow-up in the form of Kevin Toms Football Game to mobile as well, what’s the rationale behind that?

Well I want to be free to continue evolving the game over time. Unlike Football * Manager which was a rewrite of a retro game, Kevin Toms Football Game is set to evolve over time but it's a very casual game - casual with long-term depth but without masses of statistics. So it combines easy play with subtlety that allows you to see your team, and the history of your team, building both over time. I want to develop that sense of fun and the urge for players to think ‘I’ll just play one more match’.

Do you have anything else planned in the future for mobile?

Actually, I get asked often to rewrite Software Star which is another game I designed, which was a business game about running a software company - obviously I can still draw on experience for that. People seem to like that a lot but I plan to finish what I’m working on first. Having set Kevin Toms Football Game up to be ongoing and continuously improving, I’m not sure when I’ll get the chance to do that. But that’s a potential thing to do in the future for mobile.

And lastly, how has PGC Helsinki been for you this year?

It’s been a lot of fun, I’ve really enjoyed it, learnt quite a lot of things, and met lots of new people as well. It’s been worth coming, and I’m very happy to be here.


Staff Writer

Iwan is a Cardiff-based freelance writer, who joined the Pocket Gamer Biz site fresh-faced from University before moving to the editorial team in November of 2023.