I like Football Manager, and I'm forever telling friends/colleagues/anyone who'll listen that, at its heart, it's a complex strategy game. If you hate football, you won't like it. But if you've even a passing interest in The Beautiful Game, I'm convinced you'll fall for its flood of stats, numbers, players and management sim mechanics. Granted, Miles Jacobson is inclined to agree, but the Sports Interactive head honcho also believes Football Manager shares core values with the RPG genre.
"I think Football Manager absolutely is a strategy game, but it's also an RPG," Jacobson tells me. "It's an RPG with more NPCs than any other RPG on the planet. It's an RPG that lets you completely create your own story, there's not a linear path in Football Manager and everyone's game is different. You are playing the role of a football manager when you're playing the game, and you're doing everything that a football manager would do in real life. So it should satisfy people in both the RPG and strategy camps.
"But, it is a football-based game, obviously. In the same way that there are some games I myself don't play because I don't like the setting—I'm personally not a big fan of elves and orcs, and never have been (give me Lego Hobbit and you're fine!), therefore a Lord of the Rings MMO probably isn't for me."
Jacobson says that with this in mind, FM's yearly demo offers would-be players a taste of what to expect. Over half a season, players get up to ten to 12 hours in the dugout, and Jacobson says he and his team encourage those interested to try before they buy. Likewise saves carry over to the main game, should you choose to splash out thereafter.
"We believe in the work that we do," adds Jacobson. "We strongly believe that it's important to allow people to try it before they buy. If they do end up buying it, the one thing that we can say for certainty is: it is the best value for money game available in the PC market. We're the most played singleplayer game on Steam per year. We've sold just over a million copies of FM18, that's 11 months after release. We still have half a million playing FM18 each month.
"To have that level of dedication amongst people, and a load of those will actually skip FM19 to carry on playing their FM18 saves. We have no issues with that at all. If people are enjoying one of our previous games as well, that's great. There are 300,000 people who're still playing 17, 16, 15 and 14 each month as well. In some cases it's four years after release. That's what we provide people in the PC landscape."
Football Manager 2019 is due November 2, 2018. Look out for our full interview with Miles Jacobson about its new features in the coming days.