Football Manager 2023 gets a release date and physical edition that lacks anything physical

Sports Interactive’s Football Manager 2023 will arrive on November 8 on PC, with those who pre-order being granted early access about two weeks before that date. The press release promises that this iteration "thrusts fans closer to every aspect of the beautiful game", which sounds like a HR complaint waiting to happen.

The announcement talks about increased supporter interactions and renewed licenses for the likes of the UEFA Champions League, but is remarkably shy on details otherwise, probably because the main focus is on FM23's cross-platform spread: the weaksauce 'console edition' is now coming to PlayStation, a streamlined take designed to be played with a pad, and FM Touch is returning to iOS thanks to a deal with Apple Arcade. On PC the game will be available on Steam, Epic, and the Microsoft Store, and has a 20% discount up until launch.

The early access period doesn't really feel like it should be called early access: it's a pre-order bonus period. But wannabe Klopps will be relieved to know saves will carry over into the 'finished' game. As for the fuzziness on exactly when early access begins, SI is currently saying "roughly two weeks prior to the official street date", and that it may go live at different times on different platforms. It will also be available on PC Game Pass.

Now here's an odd element of the game. Sports Interactive has, rightly, trumpeted the various initiatives it takes part in, one of which is a push towards 'eco-packaging' of its games. The overall carbon footprint for FM23's packaging is 47% lower than FM22, and the gCO2 (a measure of carbon dioxide output) of FM23's packaging is about a quarter of that of FM19.

Thing is, this has largely been achieved by just removing everything physical from the physical edition. Which leaves you wondering why FM23 even has a physical edition anymore. This year’s edition does not include a disc, but a download code, and no longer has a manual. So… you're buying a box with a code in it. That doesn't feel like it'll have Greta Thunberg doing backflips. In fact, it feels like SI and Sega can and should get that carbon footprint to zero next year by not making a load of purposeless boxes at all.

The announcement trailer focuses on various in-game player achievements over the last iteration, which is nice enough, and I'm also glad to see that someone out there's been using my patented 2-1-7 formation (hey, the fans can't say it wasn't entertaining). But SI's being tight-lipped on what substantial improvements, if any, can be expected for this year's entry. Not that it'll make a difference, of course, because for some people this is the only game in the world that matters. Expect a drip-drip of information about backroom recruiting, youth coaching, and tactics boards in the runup to release, before it arrives and fits like a beloved sheepskin jacket.

Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."