Football Manager developer Sports Interactive is bringing the women's game to the popular soccer management sim for the first time.
Studio director Miles Jacobson said the move has been in the works for some time, and that women's football will be fully integrated into the core Football Manager (FM) franchise.
"We have no interest whatsoever in making a standalone women’s football version of FM," he wrote in a blog post. "What we are doing is adding women’s football to FM. One sport, one game.
"FM players will be able to move seamlessly from managing a men’s team to a women’s team and back again. Women’s football will be a part of the living, breathing world that constitutes every one of your FM saves; that world will just be whole lot bigger and a little more varied."
Jacobson said bringing women's football to the main game "is going to cost millions," but added it's worth doing even though the "short-term returns it delivers will be minimal." He explained the move is ultimately about representation, and that Sports Interactive wants to use its platform and influence to help smash the "glass ceiling" of women's football.
"We want to be a part of the process that puts women’s football on an equal footing with the men’s game. We know that we’re not alone in this -- the historic TV deal that Sky and the BBC recently agreed with WSL in England is proof of that -- but we intend to do everything we can to get women’s football to where it deserves to be," he continued.
The full blog post goes on to explain the level of detail Sports Interactive wants to bring to the women's game, and outlines some of the production considerations and challenges currently facing the development team.
"To get our women’s database right we will have to examine every single in-game attribute and define exactly how we judge the data; attributes such as pace, acceleration and agility will likely stay with the same range, but some attributes may need a different scale," Jacobson notes.
"These attributes also feed into our match engine of course, and work done in this area (for example, looking at height of players and how that may affect how they play -- such as aiming shots higher if a goalkeeper is smaller) will be of benefit for the match engine overall."
The TLDR version, then, is that Sports Interactive intends to make its virtual version of women's football as impossibly comprehensive as its prophetic rendition of the men's game.
To that end, the company has already enlisted the help of professional soccer players Rosie and Mollie Kmita, both formerly of Tottenham Hotspur and Brighton & Hove Albion Ladies, to assist with motion capture. It has also named qualified coach and former head of research and analysis at Smartodds, Tina Keech, as its new head of research for women's football.
"Nothing in FM is ever finished -- there is always more we can add -- and the same will be the case with women’s football. It won’t be a case of just adding it, then forgetting about it, but it will continue to grow along with the rest of the world that we create for you to manage in," continued Jacobson.
"At this stage we don’t know exactly how long the process will take so we can’t say exactly which version of FM will see women’s football make its debut, but rest assured that our plan is to make this happen as soon as we possibly can, whilst ensuring that you are still getting all the features you’d expect from new versions of FM by adding resources to the existing team."