Visit the Steam stats page on any given Friday (or indeed Sunday, or Monday) and you’ll see Football Manager holding its own in the upper echelons of the most-played list. Today it’s the third-most played game on the service, boasting 58,733 players at its peak.
Also today, Sega revealed their financial results and confirmed what we’ve suspected for a while: FM13 has sold by the bucketload. And that Aliens: Colonial Marines has made a much bigger splash than it deserves.
An entry has appeared in the Steam database that confirms that Football Manager 2014 is on its way, ending absolutely no speculation about the future of the enormously successful management series. We can also confirm that the world is still spinning and we expect the sun to rise tomorrow morning, though the celestial body was not available for comment.
If there were ever a genre to benefit from the post-Steam world of continually updated PC games, it’d be sports management. There was a time when Football Manager 2013 would’ve begun dating as soon as it left Sports Interactive’s offices - a static image of a past season, doomed to perpetually repeat itself.
No longer. With update 13.3.0, FM13 will allow you to see “Beckham strut his stuff at PSG, watch Balotelli back in Milan or lead the French revolution at Newcastle", thanks to newly updated squads.
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The changelog for FM 2013’s 13.1.3 patch lists a lot of things, but as I read them I was thinking of something else: Football Manager’s in-match engine has become an incredible complex and powerful beast of a sim, isn’t it?
Perhaps it was the wrecked relationships; the broken lives. Or maybe it was just the bloodshot eyes of their own development team resigned to staring at lines of code, only to spend their spare time with retinas locked to the experience they create. Whatever the motivation, with Football Manager 2013, Sports Interactive decided we needed a new way of playing – a return to the more disposable, dare I say fun, way of experiencing the monster they produce each season.
[Breath, Benson. Breathe, just stick to the facts. No one can complain with the facts] Football is a sport. A sport that is played by men and women. There are two teams. These teams have managers and those managers, er, [you're losing it], er, [keep it together], organise the teams. [Good, if you're running out of facts don't let on] The managers are selected by their ability. There is a footballer called David Peckham. Managers are gauged by their aptitude in a simulation device, Football Manager. Each year's iteration allows new budding managers find work with a team. Footballers eat oranges. There is a demo available for the new Football Manager.
Hear every economy in the world breathe a sigh of relief: Football Manager 2013 is to be released on a Friday, saving workplaces from spontaneous mass affliction. That’s Friday November 2nd, simultaneously across the world.
If you like your management sims footbally then all the coverage of Football Manger 2013 has probably fed you to the gills and left you a little drunk with sim-pectation. Well, if you're one into your excess then you'll want to watch the six, yes, six videos of the sim. Each video breaks down a different element of the game's features.
Telling you what they are before the break, now that would be cheating.
I really couldn’t tell you what the most exciting part of yesterday’s FM 2013 announcement was. But it’s a dead heat between proper Steam multiplayer integration and the addition of the new Classic Mode, which aims to fold as much of the FM experience into eight to ten hours of play.
What we didn’t know yesterday is that Classic Mode was thunk up by Sports Interactive after realising that most of their dev team no longer had the time to play the game themselves.
Steam became the only way to connect to Football Manager as of last year, and was the cause of some riling amongst fans. It was a decision Sports Interactive’s Miles Jacobson wasn’t sure of at the time, but was in retrospect a “very good idea".
At the centre of today’s FM 2013 blowout was a singularity, an unknown quantity amongst iterative improvements. It’s called Classic Mode, and it’s designed to let you play a full season - lean, but satisfying - in eight to ten hours. It’s also to have entirely optional paid-for unlocks, to smooth out progress for those who want it. SI boss Miles Jacobson tells us: “It’s basically allowing people to define the way they want to play the game".
We’ve heard plenty of talk from Sports Interactive’s Miles Jacobson this year, on stage, on dictaphone and on forums, what with it being the 20th anniversary of Championship / Football Manager. But nary a squeak on Football Manager 13, despite rumours that the sim’s newest iteration might be with us by the end of October. And while a big announcement was scheduled for the end of this month, we’re now set to wait a little longer.
It's always awkward running into your ex, unless you're Miles Jacobson, head of Sports Interactive, and your ex (in the metaphorical and business sense, rather than a romantic one) is Ian Livingstone, president of Eidos. The Football Manager developer split from Eidos almost a decade ago (leaving their ex-publishers with nothing but the series' name at the time, Championship Manager), and neither party had spoken openly about the schism until yesterday's GameHorizon conference, where the estranged pair sat down for an on-stage tête-à-tête. Edge has the story, in which a candid Jacobson reveals how their current publisher Sega penned them an offer on the back of a curry house napkin. Brilliant.
We caught up with Sports Interactive’s Studio Director Miles Jacobson to talk about his plans for Football Manager’s scouting network. Almost as interesting as the network size and its professional usage was what he wouldn't tell us about. You can find out what it wasn't after the jump.