Football Manager 2010 price drop at Zavvi

FM2010There’s the usual pre-Christmas buzz about Football Manager at the moment but – as I blogged before – I absolutely refuse to pay over the odds for it.

After a month or so of websites advertising price points of £25-30, Zavvi decided to test the mettle of the impatient buyers who already pre-ordered by selling it for £17.95 with free UK delivery.  How many who paid maybe £10 or £12 more will cancel and re-order with Zavvi?

In a time where piracy is rife, to me the logic is very simple.  Charge less for the product and increase your sales.  I have now gone from a position of not buying it to buying it.

Support the consumer!  Buy from Zavvi!

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Championship Manager 2010 "does" a Radiohead

CM2010Championship Manager (CM) was the all-conquering football management game franchise until the original creators, Sports Interactive, left the fold.  They went on to regenerate the Football Manager brand and have topped the charts since 2004 while CM has floundered with a series of much-criticised releases.

CM skipped their 2008 release in order to concentrate on really putting a quality product out in 2009.  Last week they released their CM2010 demo (to a fair share of cricitism) and today made a startling announcement when series manager Roy Meredith revealed that the game would be available for as little as 1p.

You can now pre-order the game on http://www.champmanstore.com until midnight on September 10th choosing to pay as much or as little as you like with the addition of a £2.50 handling charge.  The game can then be downloaded from the site on release day.  After this time it will be available at the usual retail price of £25.

This is thought to be the first time that the game industry has seen such a move and it has taken many by surprise.  Game publishers Eidos are following the lead of rock band Radiohead’s decision to release their 2007 album “In Rainbows” on their website with the cost decided by the downloader.  There are differing views on whether or not it was a success but when the album was released on CD three months later it went to number one in the UK and US.

The potential difference between CM2010 and “In Rainbows” is that the latter received overwhelmingly strong reviews.  If the reaction to last week’s demo is anything to go by, CM may have a tougher time convincing the music-buying public that their product is worth paying full price for.

But if they do release a competent game (and after playing the demo for a short while I think they are closer than they’ve ever been in the last five years) then there’s no doubt that this move is great publicity for the brand.

I blogged last November about Football Manager 2009 and what was, in my view, a cynical increase of more than £5 on the usual price point of £18 or £19.  Here we were, already tasting recession and rather than keep the price low, they (retailers? publishers?) put it up.  Needless to say I found an alternative way to play the game and did so until I found a reasonable deal six weeks after release.

Football Manager 2009 receipt
Football Manager 2009 receipt

With Football Manager popping up at a pre-sale price-point of about £25-29 again this year, I certainly will not be buying until it drops below £20.  However, my interest is certainly piqued by the Championship Manager offer and with the option of paying as little as £2.51 for it – the cost of a coffee – it’s hard to see how one could turn that down.

How many others are there out there like me?

I assume that Eidos have done their maths here and this move is all about getting the game in to more hands and rebuilding the brand for future releases.  CM2010 may not make them any money but next year’s game may benefit.

The Dregs of Society

The hostility between football fans is something that a lot of people don’t understand. Outside of a few hundred diehard fans, there is little aggressive behaviour noticeable in the sparsely populated grounds of League of Ireland clubs.

So it’s with, at best, puzzlement, at worst, disgust, that we read about the latest battle between Manchester United and Liverpool fans.

Although to be fair, it could be argued that the Manchester United fans, while probably not on their best Sunday afternoon behaviour, were somewhat innocent compared to their Scouse counterparts.

Normally newspapers like to ignore the sick chants at football grounds, probably because it reflects badly on the national sport. But thankfully there are some brave editors out there who want you to know that Chelsea fans make ‘gas chamber’ sounds at Spurs fans, West Ham fans shout ‘shoe bomber’ at Egyptian striker, Mido, and Liverpool fans throw plastic cups of excrement over United fans.

Yes, that’s right. Liverpool fans, according to reports, threw human waste over Manchester United fans during last week’s game at Anfield. Assuming that they didn’t enter the ground with the material, you can deduce that they produced it while sitting in their seat or, more likely, in the toilets (although I wouldn’t rule anything out).

While names generally do hurt, sticks and stones certainly do. It’s such a depraved act that it beggars belief that any human being could not see beyond the moment and take a good look at themselves.

There was a further example of degenerate behaviour in the streets of Liverpool after the game. An ambulance bringing the injured Manchester United midfielder, Alan Smith, to hospital, was attacked by Liverpool fans who threw stones and bottles at it and attempted to overturn the vehicle.

Their chants of “Munich scum” (a reference to the 1958 air crash that killed 23 people, including eight Manchester United players), are somewhat common place and unfortunately seem to be almost accepted with a shoulder-shrug these days.

“These people aren’t real fans of football,” Liverpool and Manchester United said in a joint-statement this week.

Unfortunately, they are. They buy the kits. They go to matches, usually home and away. They watch the games on TV. They bring their children up to follow their club and be just like them. They are violent, hateful, brainless lunatics. And they are football fans.

And as long as the media put their head in the sand with regard to the hooligan phenomenon, justice cannot be served.

The ‘in your face’ racism that exists across Europe has been allowed to grow over the last couple of decades and now UEFA are in a position where the only punishment that the body seem to be able to hand out is a nominal fine. Even forcing clubs to play games behind closed doors or kicking them out of Europe altogether (we’d be left with clubs from Scandinavia and Luxembourg) is not the right approach.

Once clubs are not encouraging racism and are making genuine efforts to stamp it out, then the police across Europe must take action against the people who are responsible for the behaviour.

Every single fan who offends in the above ways should be banned from football grounds. Not just the one he goes to every fortnight, but every ground. The gang-mentality of football fans is one of the most hideous developments of the last 30 years. And if there is one hooligan, or racist, in Row K before the game, there could be 2-3 hooligans leaving at the end. I reference art to underline my point – watch the excellent film, “American History X”.

And justice needs to go further. An attack on any vehicle or person, never mind an attempt to endanger the lives of a severely-injured man and the paramedics who are treating him, should be punishable in the courts with a custodial sentence.

These people aren’t worthy of freedom is what the joint statement should have said.

Forrest Grump

Things I learnt from my weekend at the Paris marathon.

1. Unlike every race I’ve been in, the organisers of the Paris marathon do not furnish you with safety pins for attaching your bib.
2. Everyone in Paris speaks English-until you need to find out off a race organiser if they have safety pins.
3. 24-hour pharmacies sound like great ideas until you find out that they don’t sell safety pins.

The solution in the end for the above dilemma was to have the pharmacist staple it to my chest. We had a 75% success rate with just one dropping off before the end of the race.

What’s that all about? Imagine packing to go on holiday … Passport-CHECK, Tickets-CHECK, safety pins-CHECK.

The race itself went quite well. I started at the 3h 45m balloon. When you enter the race you predict the time that you are likely to do so that if you are a 200 pound straggler you won’t hold up the people with ability by blocking the Champs d’Elysée with your girth and a trolley of treats. So they have pace-setters who run at the pace that you have predicted for yourself and you identify these people by coloured balloons pinned to their back. They look a bit moronic but you’re hardly going to say this to very fit French people.

My target time in reality was 3h 30m which was an average time of 5min per km.
My times were
1 km 5m 15s
2 km 5m 17s
3 km 5m 08s
4 km 4m 56s
5 km 3m 47s (probably inaccurate)
6 km 5m 12s
7 km 5m 31s
8 km 5m 11s
9 km 5m 24s
10km 4m 41s
11km 5m 18s
12km 5m 16s
13km 4m 09s
14km 4m 54s
15km 4m 49s
16km 5m 13s
17km 5m 03s
18km 4m 44s
19km 4m 44s
20km 4m 36s
21km 5m 12s
22km 5m 22s
23km 4m 48s
24km 4m 51s
25km 5m 16s
26km 5m 08s
27km 5m 10s
28km 5m 46s
29km 5m 02s
30km 6m 23s
31km 8m 06s (probably inaccurate)
32km 5m 10s
33km 4m 54s
34km 5m 22s
35km 4m 56s
36km 6m 04s
37km 5m 43s
38km 5m 15s
39km 5m 56s
40km 4m 34s
41km 4m 18s
42km 4m 51s

These were calculated using a GPS watch I was wearing and are not that accurate in parts – but anyway my finish time was 3h 44m so a little disappointing. But I really did do my best and despite good conditions, I struggled with an injury from about the 8th kilometer on. The last 10km were hell on two feet,

Most importantly, the collection for the Irish Cancer Society currently sits over 1200EUR and everyone has been extremely generous for a very worthy cause.

The rest of the holiday was great. Paris is wonderful, great city. Only problem of course were the smokers in bars and restaurants, something that’s been gone from Ireland for over 12 months. Kind of ironic that I’m collecting money for cancer research and treatment and have to put up with cancer been blown in my face for four days. Hopefully the rest of the world will leave the dark ages, catch up with Ireland and relegate this outcast behaviour to the past.


My Big Fat Obnoxious Ego

Tell me something, are buttons cute? One of the girls in the office brought in their new baby the other week and I was sat at my desk wondering just what the hell I was going to say when it came my turn to offer some verbal. The first thing that flashed in to my head was ‘ahhh, isn’t he/she cute as a button?’. And then I thought: ‘that’s such a bunch of crap’. Seriously, are buttons cute? I mean, yeah, those small ones you get on cardigans can be pretty cute but what about those big brown ones? You know the ones. Normally on ugly raincoats or heavy tweed full-length coats. There’s nothing cute about those. So essentially you are hiding your real thoughts behind a deliberate misnomer. I’m saying your baby is cute as a button but I haven’t specified the type of button I’m referring to. Should I be referring to those big bastarding, ugly things that belong in some sartorial museum, then I’m being hugely sarcastic.

I digress.

This is a big weekend for me. Tomorrow morning I fly to Paris to compete in the city marathon. 26 miles of gruelling this and that. I don’t know why I do it to be honest – part ego, part…actually, it’s all ego. I’ve ran a few half-marathons in Christchurch, New Zealand (2002) and Dublin (2004), and in between I ran the Dublin marathon (2003) in 3h52m. Relatively successful I suppose.

The target on Sunday is ultimately 3h30m but the truth is that it would have to go 100% swimmingly well for that to come off. That’s basically my marathon pace with no room for error or exhasution. In 2003 I hit the feckin’ wall at 20 miles and took 60mins to do the last 10km. I’m a bit more clued in now and my preperation has been better. September 2003 (the month before the marathon) was a washout last time because I ended up working two (literally) full weekends in work on a big project.

I’m running for the Irish Cancer Society and I’m hoping to rake in a similar amount to the €1200 I raised for Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind in 2003. You see? One half of the ego is saying ‘hey look I can run for ages and you can’t!’ and the other half is saying ‘hey I’m raising money for charity!’.

But to take myself seriously for a second, while we all extend ourselves to help those suffering after the tsunami in Asia, it’s important not to forget those who suffer closer to home. There’s always room for one more – you just have to want to move a little and accommodate as much as possible.

I’ll bring you up to date when I get back and we might be seeing a similar sight to below. Glad I grew the full beard since. That goatee just wasn’t working for me.