Soccer sim studio scouts tablets, cloud tech and microtransactions
Sports Interactive is currently swept in a fever of brainstorming and experimentation, the London studio’s manager has said, with numerous future platforms and technologies under consideration.
Miles Jacobson (pictured) said the group’s lucrative Football Manager series could in the future support tablets, cloud game tech and microtransactions, but the only idea off the table at the moment is console ports.
“We’re looking to hire six to ten engineers to work for us, particularly on next generation tech. And when I talk about next generation technology I’m not talking about consoles,” he told Develop.
“I’m talking more about mobile platforms and what’s happening in the PC and Mac world as well. We’re not looking at coming back to console.”
Sports Interactive, whose FM series has claimed more weeks atop the charts than Irish rockers U2, had a less than stellar success when the game arrived on Xbox 360.
“We’ve actually spent two years doing research with Harris [a polling company] about whether we should come back to console or not, because I personally really want to,” Jacobson said.
“When we spoke to people who stopped playing Football Manager on consoles, the common response was that they didn’t want, or weren’t allowed, to have the same thing on their TV for hours on end.”
But while the TV has become a no-go area, Jacobson and his team believe tablet, mobile and cloud technologies bring numerous new opportunities.
“The way mobile technology is going, I think we’re going to get to a stage quite soon – within the next two, three or four years – where mobile tech catches up to where PCs were only a few years ago,” Jacobson said.
“So if we get to a stage where mobiles and tablets catch up, the decision that we’ve got to make is whether we port across the full experience, or whether we do something that’s more like the handheld versions of Football Manager.”
There are two schools of thought here, Jacobson added. Either the mobile, PC and possible handheld games offer their own unique experience, or all the devices connect to one single game.
“That’s exactly what we’re trying to figure out. We’re experimenting with everything,” he said.
One possibility available to the Football Manager team is to host the same game through the cloud to PC, mobiles and tablets.
The soccer management sim requires significant amounts of PC storage and system memory, but the play dynamic itself is essentially clicking through spreadsheets – something that is not particularly vulnerable to any online lag issues.
Jacobson said Football Manager was a “perfect fit” for the cloud games service OnLive, but added that his owning company Sega has yet to sign a deal.
“I’d love to get on there and experiment with that technology”, he said.
“There are some Sega titles on OnLive already, so I would be surprised if Football Manager wasn’t on there at some point in the future.
“I’m a big fan of OnLive, and I play most of my PC games through it now.
“There will be people out there playing Football Manager with just the 2D match engine, because they don’t have the GPU or memory, but OnLive can fix that,” he said.
Jacobson added that the studio was waiting for the response to PS Vita before committing to Sony’s handheld.
He added that Football Manager Online being built with a South Korean telecoms company, and will feature micro-transactions technologies.