Eastside Hockey Manager Returns After 8 Year Absence


Eastside Hockey Manager has made its return after an 8 year absence, via the Steam Early Access program. It is currently priced at $14.99.

Sports Interactive are best known for their Football Manager series, arguably the most successful sports simulation game series since its creation in 1992, and most fans are in agreement that it sets the bar for any game which attempts to tackle the fine art of sports management. The company branched out into the Hockey market in 2002, and released three titles under the Eastside Hockey Manager banner.

We think there’s a market for the game, as do some people at SEGA and Steam, so we want to prove it to everyone else and bring the series back bigger and better for the long term.

In January 2007, Eastside Hockey Manager was officially cancelled by Sports Interactive, citing piracy as a major reason for the poor sales of the title, forcing its hiatus. In the years that followed, the games developed a cult following,and various dedicated websites have hosted regular online leagues.

The new release is not licensed at this point in time (although fan websites regularly post updated rosters). Miles Jacobson, Studio Director of Sports Interactive, noted that the game is being released via Early Access as a test for possible future releases.

“If the feedback is good, people enjoy it, and we reach a certain number of players, it means we can get a proper budget together for the game, build a small team around it (rather than the team having ‘day jobs’ working on FM) and go back to having an annualized version with full licenses from leagues around the world.”

As a Football Manager fan and a Hockey fan, this news comes as a pleasant surprise. Sports Interactive have an incredible reputation, and have consistently put out great products for years. I think Early Access is the perfect platform for this game. It allows the staff at Sports Interactive to work on the game as a side-project, whilst giving the EHM community a new hockey experience, after so many years of waiting.

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The question remains as to whether the series can generate the interest that it needs to become a fully licensed, annual release. I would like to see the company devote some time into promotion in the Canadian and North American markets especially, as it seems that many Hockey fans are unaware that the game ever existed.

How do you feel about this news? Do you remember Eastside Hockey Manager? Will you be purchasing the Early Access on Steam?

Let me know in the comments.

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