In an ideal world there would be informative, full-length documentaries on every interesting facet of games—my personal hope is for a Looking Glass documentary exploring, among other things, the fantastic Thief series—but Football Manager is a solid alternative, what with it being probably the most quietly successful management sim around. FilmNova have made such a film, entitled An Alternative Reality: The Football Manager Documentary, and it's coming to select UK cinemas next month.
If you're a long-term Football Manager player, you likely believe yourself to be a fully qualified managerial master. At the same time, a nagging part of your brain is probably reminding you that it's all fiction, that you haven't taken Accrington Stanley to League Cup success, and that, if given the chance in real life, everybody would point and laugh at you.
Maybe it's time to silence that pessimistic voice, because the game's extensive player database has been deemed accurate enough for real-world use. Sports Interactive have today announced a partnership with performance analysis provider Prozone Sports that will put the FM database at the disposal of real-world clubs and scouts.
Sega has announced, and announced the release date for, Football Manager 15 in the span of a single press release. No countdown sites, no mysterious teaser trailers, no publicity stunts—just your straightforward announcement, with a few paragraphs of fluff, and a logo. We'll have to wait until October to hear about the game's new features, but in the meantime Sega has revealed the existence of the curiously-cased inSIder tie-in site, which appears to be a sort of email subscription thingy with added discounts and that.
Too busy scouring the Eredivisie for promising young wingers to notice that your other half has walked out on you? Football writer, and co-author of Football Manager Stole My Life, Iain Macintosh charts a typical journey into the dark side of FM micromanagement.
Football Manager makes sense to me again. The series had slowly driven me away as it crammed more detail into its already stat-heavy simulation of football. I never seemed to be able to tell what information mattered, and which decisions were the cause of my various triumphs and failures.
Classic Mode changed that. Introduced last year, it strips back the game to something that, on the surface, resembles Championship Manager from ten years ago, but is underpinned by the same rich simulation that drives the main game. The mode returns in Football Manager 2014, and it’s still my favourite way to play the game. This release doesn’t have any equivalent flagship feature, but the hundreds of changes it does make are important. Most notable for fans of modern football is the inclusion of expanded player roles, and a tactics system that replaces sliders with the language of real football tacticians. That means being able to deploy players in the midfield as a trequartista, a false nine or an enganche.
Sports Interactive's Miles Jacobson recently gave a London Games Conference presentation on the piracy of Football Manager 2013. The figures he quotes may well be enough to wipe the shout off the mouth of their faceless manager man. According to Jacobson, over 10 million unique IPs have been reported as using an unregistered copy of the game. That's despite FM2013 having not been cracked until over six months after its initial release last year.
How best to persuade you to sit through an exploration of the underlying tech powering the new features of a management sim? For Sports Interactive, the answer is to announce the release date of that game at the end of their five minute info-burst. It's a clever idea, but one that I'm going to immediately nullify, by posting that date right here in this paragraph. Football Manager 2014 is coming out on the 31st of October. You should still watch the video, though.
I'm putting my trust in the fact that these two new video blogs for the upcoming Football Manager 2014 are informative and useful. I did try to watch them, but was overwhelmed by the incomprehensible stats and jargon. I'd have an easier time bringing the nations of the world under the flag of some military empire, than I would trying to assault Wigan Athletic with a handful of costly footbalteers. If your preference is for conquering terraces, Sports Interactive have explained their new game's improved UI and News systems.
If football is a game of two halves, football managing is a chaotic, multi-segmented mess. There's the dealing with spoilt millionaires half, the pretending to care about the board of directors half, the not admitting that thing you did to the press half. Somewhere, among all these many jobs, there's the actual bit of the game where football is played. And that is the subject of this first video of Football Manager 2014 in action.
Miles Jacobson is, in his own words, “a bit tired, actually.” It turns out the Sports Interactive boss was up until the small hours the previous night organising screenshots for the announcement of Football Manager 14, this year’s iteration of arguably gaming’s most famous simulation. With a promised 1000 improvements and a wealth of new features that offer much more scope for user-generated content, it sounds like a pretty substantial overhaul. So we rang him up to find out more, and ended up discussing pots, PR training and parallel universes.
The tumultuous intrigue of medieval Europe? The delicate diplomacy between hostile alien races? Pah! The offices, changing rooms and dugouts of a mid-table League Two team are where the real tactical geniuses are born. And that headless shouting man above can mean only one thing, Football Manager is back for a new season, offering an improved line-up of enhancements and features.
One of my favourite football stories is from a recent interview with charismatic Real Madrid boss José Mourinho. He relayed an anecdote about his time at Internazionale with football’s current enfant terrible, Mario Balotelli. The mercurial Italian was the one striker fit for an important Champions League tie, with all others injured. Booked three minutes before half-time, Balotelli spent the 15-minute break being begged by his manager not to get into trouble. Mourinho recalls what he said at the time: “Mario, I cannot [substitute] you. I don’t have a striker on the bench. If we lose the ball, [I want] no reaction. If somebody provokes you, no reaction. If the referee makes a mistake, no reaction. Mario, please.” Mourinho grins. “Minute 46: red card.”
Attention, ballfoot fans! Get out the iron and flatten out those touchline suits. The latest iteration of Football Manager will go live on Steam at one minute past midnight on November 02, and you can get in two weeks early if you pre-order from one of these places.
It's one of the great breakups in gaming. Up there with John Romero leaving id software, or West and Zampella walking out on Activision. The story of how the developers behind Championship Manager, one of the most profitable and successful game series of all time, left their publisher Eidos, and abandoned the franchise they'd spent years building to start again with Sega and Football Manager.
Until now, everyone involved was legally unable to talk about what happened, but yesterday Sports Interactive's Miles Jacobson and Eidos' Ian Livingstone finally spoke about what happened nine years ago.
This article originally appeared in PCG UK 247.
Whether you’re desperately plugging a weakness in the team or trying to spot the next Cesc Fabregas while he’s young, finding a good bargain is one of the great joys of Football Manager. That’s why we’ve put together a PC Gamer Dream Team of the best young players in the game. We reckon they could take on any team in the Premiership, and they only cost us just over £15 million, half a Drogba. Bargain.
The January football transfer window has slammed shut with the roar of a billion bank notes changing hands, and the echoing wail of the odd player who gets loaned to Millwall when all they really want is to play for Manchester United. Football Manager players will have to wait a few more weeks for the official transfer patch to arrive and update their rosters, until then, FMScout have compiled a couple of useful unofficial updates from around the web.
Sports Interactive's Miles Jacobson has been taking to Eurogamer about the success of Football Manager 2012's use of Steam as an anti-piracy measure. This year's edition was the first to require activation through Valve's service, a point that caused controversy among some Football Manager fans. Jacobson says that the trade-off was worth it. "We got cracked after 10 days, which is actually 15 days less than normal - normally we're cracked the weekend before release."
Within those ten days of grace Jacobson says that Sports Interactive saw a sales upsurge. "Of course it could be because we've got the best game that we've ever released this year and loads of people have rushed out and bought it," Jacobson said, "but there were definitely people on the forums that were talking about a pirated version of the game who were, after four or five days, posting that, 'I can't wait any more, I'm going out and buying the game.'"
This must be what a tempestuous marriage feels like. Kurt and Courtney. Burton and Taylor. Clough and Taylor. (Not the same Taylor, obviously, although that would be some sequel to The Damned United). I love it, then I hate it; I hate it, then I love it. For every thing in Football Manager 2012 that delights me, you can bet there’s another thing that has me spitting feathers, vowing never to play it again. Twas ever thus.
The Football Manger 2012 demo is available now on Steam, offering the first half-season of 11 quick-start leagues set in England, Australia, Scotland, France, Spain, Holland, Belgium, Italy, Norway, Denmark and Sweden. If you manage to put together a decent squad and can't bear to lose them, you'll be able to carry over all of your progress into the full version when it's released on October 21.
"The demo includes the biggest leagues in the world and allows you to put your managerial skills to the test on a global stage," reads the Steam blurb, which explains why it weighs in at just over 2.7 GB. That's 2.7 GB of pure, sweet footballing data. Yum.
Football Manager fans have voiced their anger at the integration of Steamworks into Football Manager 2012. The move to Steam means copies of the game will need to be activated online before being able to play. Eurogamer indicates 40 pages of comments reacting to the news on the Sports Interactive forums, with thousands of posts from fans angry with the changes.
Some fans are threatening to boycott the series until the online activation requirement is removed. Sega tell Eurogamer that Football Manager has moved to Steam to combat piracy.
"Make no mistake, if a quarter of the people that usually pirate the game switch to purchasing Football Manager 2012, the sales of the game worldwide would more than double," they say.