Video games companies have been tapping into the extensive football fanbase around the world for many years. Here’s a trip down memory lane and a look at some of the shirt sponsorship deals of past seasons.
This time around we take a look at two British software companies who found success in different decades. From the 8 and 16-Bit era we have a rare instance of Ocean Software promoting one of their titles in the French leagues whilst Eidos found success in the ’90s and sponsored one the English game’s biggest clubs… who weren’t quite the powerhouse they are today.
1993 | Ocean Software / Ocean of America
Ocean Software (Known as Ocean of America in the states) were founded in Manchester in 1984. The company was bought out by French concern Infogrames in 1996 and again in 1998 by Atari at which point the name was changed and Ocean ceased to be.
During their heyday the company enjoyed success with many of their games being based on blockbuster movie titles. Batman and RoboCop are two of the best known. It was another of these big budget movie tie-ins that prompted the company to take a look at sponsoring a football team to promote their game. The movie was Jurassic Park and both the film and the game debuted in the same year, 1993.
With a hotly anticipated title on their hands you’d expect the company to sponsor a big club perhaps? Manchester United maybe? Since the company hail from the same city… Nope. The only club to feature Ocean’s Jurassic Park logo on their shirts was FC Martigues, a team newly promoted to Ligue One where they would stay for three seasons before dropping back to the second tier of French football.
Football shirts of the early ’90s don’t hold up well in terms of style, but FC Martigues’ Jurassic Park efforts maintain a certain charm, especially the white away strip with the larger black lettering. Incidentally, I haven’t been able to determine why there are two versions of the home shirt, one with the black logo pictured below, the other with a similar design to the white shirt, but with red lettering. I’d love to find out more, if you know drop us a comment.
FC Martigues with one of the coolest shirt of all time? Ocean Software’s Jurassic Park sponsorship.
1999 – 2002 | Eidos
Eidos became a household name with gamers with the phenomenal success of Tomb Raider featuring the iconic character Lara Croft. Formed in Wimbledon, London, in 1990 the company ceased to exist in 2009 when it became Square Enix.
The company enjoyed other successes with titles like Hitman and Deus Ex and, bucking the trend we’ve seen with most of the other video game companies that have sponsored football teams, the Eidos logo on Manchester City’s shirts coincided with a period of success for the club.
Manchester City are regarded now as one of the English Premier League’s biggest clubs with millions of pounds invested in players and infrastructure. When Eidos signed up to sponsor the club in 1999 the club had only just achieved promotion to the second tier of the league.
Eidos went on to sponsor Manchester City until 2002 during which time the club made it into the Premier League in 2001 before dropping back into Division One in 2002, which was by this time known as The Championship.