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Football Manager 2023 becomes most played entry in franchise history

The title has broken records, but developer Sports Interactive has revealed the franchise is nearing the end of an era.

Chris Kerr, News Editor

June 29, 2023

3 Min Read
Key artwork for Football Manager 2023 showing a group of player celebrating on the pitch

Football Manager 2023 is the most played release in the history of the long-running franchise.

Miles Jacobson, studio director at developer Sports Interactive, shared the news in a lengthy blog post where he discussed the past, present, and future of the series.

Jacobson explained that Sports Interactive's willingness to embrace new platforms has opened the doors to new players, allowing Football Manager 2023 to achieve the "once unimaginable" feat of attracting 5 million players.

"Over the last few years we’ve been embracing new platforms to improve the reach of our work–which hasn’t always worked that well (may Stadia rest in peace). But, with the success of our launches on Game Pass for Xbox and PC, this year saw us bring back Football Manager Touch for Apple Arcade and launch FM23 Console on PlayStation 5. Both exceeded all expectations, he said.

"Before we embraced these new types of platforms, we were getting close to 2 million players a year. With FM23, we have just this month hit a once unimaginable milestone of 5M players, and it’s still growing."

Despite hitting that milestone, Jacobson acknowledged that Football Manager 2023 didn't meet the standards and expectations the studio has set over the years, largely because the game's feature set lacked meaningful improvements and progress when compared to past entries.

"We tried a few new processes last year, some worked, some didn’t. A few months before release we faced the reality of having to drop a few features that we’d wanted to introduce to ensure we were able to deliver a working game. While FM23 was released with some great new features and the overall quality of the game was still very high, it also contained some features which just didn't hit the mark," he added.

It's a situation that resulted in hardcore players feeling underserved, and one Jacobson has pledged to remedy with the next instalment in the series, Football Manager 2024, which the studio claims will be the last of its kind.

Football Manager boss teases huge changes

That's because Sports Interactive plans to start a new chapter with Football Manager 2025, which will be the first entry in the series to leverage Unity. Jacobson hopes that pivoting to a new game engine will give the dev team "a lot more power graphically, across all formats, alongside powerful user interface tools."

"For those of you who are not familiar with gaming technologies–in simple terms, FM25 will have a significantly better looking matchday experience–both on the pitch and the supporting stadium environments, alongside a vastly improved user interface that will dramatically improve how you navigate through screens and access all the information available to you as manager. We’ll also have new technology for Newgens and manager creation which are already looking really promising at this early stage," he continued.

"The only platform that won’t benefit from the switch to Unity in time for FM25 is FM25 Mobile, but it is absolutely our intention to incorporate the new tech in Mobile at some point in the future."

The release of Football Manager 2025 will also see the introduction of women's football. Sports Interactive pledged to introduce women's football back in 2021, but said legal issues have hampered progress.

"The facts are that we’ve made really good progress in many areas [where women's football is concerned], including research, the match engine and translation. But there are other areas that haven’t made enough advancements, a lot of which are legal issues. The women's game deserves to be the best it possibly can be when it is released - and the new graphics engine will help deliver that," said Jacobson.

"Supporting us in bringing this project to life are some key people from inside the women’s game, who are passionate about helping us deliver the most authentic experience possible."

About the Author(s)

Chris Kerr

News Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Game Developer news editor Chris Kerr is an award-winning journalist and reporter with over a decade of experience in the game industry. His byline has appeared in notable print and digital publications including Edge, Stuff, Wireframe, International Business Times, and PocketGamer.biz. Throughout his career, Chris has covered major industry events including GDC, PAX Australia, Gamescom, Paris Games Week, and Develop Brighton. He has featured on the judging panel at The Develop Star Awards on multiple occasions and appeared on BBC Radio 5 Live to discuss breaking news.

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