As you can probably imagine, given what we do and how important data and research is to our games, here at Sports Interactive we use a lot of data to help us make business decisions.
We constantly monitor our roster of games using a process of ‘cost-benefit analysis’ which, simply put, means that we look at how much it costs us to develop, QA and release each separate version, then compare that against the revenue it will bring in (alongside any other benefits or costs it may offer to our business, outside of pure profit and loss).
Sometimes this leads to us having to make difficult business decisions that we know won’t be universally popular, but we have to look at the bigger picture and decide what’s the best for the majority of our players and for us as a studio.
So, today I want to talk about some changes to the formats that we will – and won’t – be releasing Football Manager Touch on this year.
But first, let’s take a quick look back on that game’s history.
Football Manager Classic, as Touch was originally named, was added as a game mode within Football Manager 2013, as a streamlined way for people to play. At the time, our research showed us that there was a growing audience who wanted something simpler than the ‘full fat’ FM, but more in-depth than our mobile game at that time, Football Manager Handheld (which has since been renamed as Football Manager Mobile).
Classic was first released as a standalone game in 2014 on PlayStation Vita and did much better there than we were expecting, so we looked to expand it onto other platforms. We first made it available for iOS and Android tablets in April 2015, although it would only work on the most powerful versions of that early hardware.
In 2015 we changed the name from ‘Classic’ to ‘Touch’ as the control system was very much geared towards touch screens – and also because research showed there was confusion over the use of ‘Classic’, with many of our fans thinking it was a historical version of FM.
In 2017 Touch was removed as a ‘mode’ from FM, and became a standalone release, following an initial experiment with selling it separate from FM in 2016.
Initially this was very successful, but with the release of the game on other platforms – such as the Switch version in 2018 and then last year’s Xbox Edition, both of which are closely modelled on Touch – and changes to the way people play games, sales on the PC, Mac and tablet versions of the game have fallen significantly. Developing for the tablet market, particularly on Android, is also very challenging, due to the huge range of different hardware versions available.
With the pandemic and changing working practices thrown into the mix, we also have to weigh up internal resources, both short term and long term, when making format decisions. And yes, I am setting a small group of you here up for some bad news. As Roxette once said in the best greatest hits album title of all time, ‘Don’t bore us, get to the chorus’, so…
Football Manager Touch 2022 will only be available on Nintendo Switch. There will be no version of the game available on Steam, the Epic Store, the App Store or Google Play. Anyone who wants to play a streamlined version of FM anywhere other than Switch will still be able to do so, but the game won’t be called ‘Touch’.
For PC players, the Xbox Edition will be available to purchase via the Microsoft Store or via Game Pass, while tablet players will be able to stream that game to their devices via Microsoft’s xCloud streaming service (which is available to anyone with a Game Pass Ultimate subscription). The full range of options is set out in the platform matrix below.
One positive about Football Manager Touch which was revealed by the data was that many of our fans ‘dipped in’ to Touch to take advantage of Versus Mode (which allows players to test their FM squad in head-to-head online matches against other managers). As a result of this, we are working to implement Versus Mode in Football Manager 2022, although this won’t be introduced until early next year (as there’s quite a bit of development work required and we didn’t want to delay the game’s release).
Removing games from the FM line-up is not something we do lightly (or often) and when we do it’s only ever to improve the things for the majority of our players. I know that the decision to limit the availability of Touch will not be popular with a section of FM fans, but I also know that it’s best for both the studio and the wider FM community.
Studio Director of Sports Interactive