Sports Interactive and Sega have announced that women’s football will be added into their hugely popular Football Manager series. There’s no specifics on when the addition will be made, and it’s described as a “multi-year project”, but Sport’s Interactive will incorporate the women’s game “as soon as realistically possible”.
Whenever that might be – it sounds unlikely for Football Manager 2022 – it will simply be another part of the whole Football Manager experience. Players will be able to move from managing a men’s team to a women’s team and back, and Sports Interactive are working to ensure that the women’s game has just as much depth and detail.
Miles Jacobson, Studio Director at Sports Interactive, said, “We have NO interest whatsoever in making a standalone women’s football version of FM. What we are doing is adding women’s football to FM… one sport, one game.
“We know that adding women’s football to FM is going to cost in the millions and that the short-term return it delivers will be minimal. But that’s not the point. There’s no hiding that there’s currently a glass ceiling for women’s football and we want to do what we can to help smash through it. We believe in equality for all and we want to be part of the solution.
“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.”
Speaking about the announcement, Chelsea FC Women manager, Emma Hayes said, “Women’s football is capturing the imagination of fans across the globe and we’re making huge strides in terms of attendance figures and broadcast deals,” says Hayes. “For the women’s game to get to the next level, though, it needs to be recognised as an integral part of the world of football, not something separate and different. We want future generations to grow up in a world where football isn’t divided into ‘women’s’ and ‘men’s’… it’s just football. The ambitious plan that the Sports Interactive team have for Football Manager will play a huge part in getting us there.”
In an extensive blog post detailing the work that is going into this, Sports Interactive are building a comprehensive global database of women’s football from scratch, and that will require analysing every in-game attribute and deciding how to judge pace, acceleration and more with women in mind.
The visuals will also hinge on Sports Interactive creating new character models, doing new motion capture for female players, modelling new kits, and more. Oh, and they’ll have to go through all of the game’s 100,000 text strings to ensure that they accommodate multiple genders, adn localise that for every language.
They’re even going down some deep rabbit holes, Miles saying:
“Then there are other questions that we have to ask ourselves, such as how detailed should we go initially? There is a lot of existing literature available about the impact of the menstrual cycle on training and injuries, but how do we incorporate this without it having a major effect on gameplay? And what about pregnancy? If we have pregnant players and staff in game, do we need different 3D models for the different stages?”
All in all, this is a fantastic move, and Sports Interactive’s commitment to ensuring that it is on a par with the men’s game is admirable. The studio has ongoing partnerships with AFC Wimbledon Ladies & Girls and Watford Women and has announced a new commercial partnership agreement for the 2021/22 season with Leicester City Women, which will see FM branding feature on the dugout and interview boards for the club.
Source: press release, Football Manager