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Development Update: Football Manager 25


Mihai

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The reaction to the two development blogs we released last year showed how much you appreciated greater transparency from the studio. 

Finding the right level of transparency is really important to us. Many of you have been with us on this journey for 30 years—others have joined along the way - and you are our biggest ambassadors. That’s why we share information with you when it’s available, and explain our decisions so you can understand the processes that go into making Football Manager. This is especially relevant with Football Manager 25 marking a new beginning in many respects.

Why “the right level of transparency”, rather than just “transparency”? There are always things we can’t discuss – we’re part of a publicly owned company, we have commitments to various partners and, as a game that simulates the real world of football, there are always several moving parts. There’s the reality that not everyone wants everything shared in minute detail and, as we’ve seen recently with a new major licence, surprises can also be great fun and provide unexpected excitement.  

I’m continuing that theme of transparency with a promised Q2 update on Football Manager 25, summing up the last few months of the development cycle and pulling back the curtain on the exciting period to come. 

We kicked off this important time in the studio’s history in recent weeks with the reveal of our new Sports Interactive logo and brand identity, followed by the huge announcement of our new partnership with the Premier League. It’s a license we’ve been pursuing for more than 20 years and are so proud to have finally succeeded in getting it – we can’t wait for you to feel how it adds to your FM experience. The more eagle-eyed among you may have also noticed an updated Football Manager logo in that video announcement trailer too.

You may have also seen the news of FM24 reaching a huge milestone of 10 million players — the most there’s ever been for a Football Manager game by a very long way. I want to thank each and every one of you, from long-term players through to those experiencing Football Manager for the first time, for all of your support.

Today, however, I want to tell you about Football Manager 25 [PC/Mac], Football Manager 25 Console [Xbox One/S/X & PlayStation 5]. More news on Football Manager 25 Touch and Football Manager 25 Mobile will follow later in the cycle.

Development Update: Football Manager 25

The Next Era

FM25 signifies the next major chapter in our journey to provide the most true-to-life football management game on the market. Put simply, it’s the biggest change we’ve embarked on since moving from our previous brand to Football Manager and the biggest tech change in more than 20 years. 

Moving to the Unity engine is a huge undertaking. It gives us incredible building blocks to create new foundations, unlock our potential, and power our future vision for Football Manager, with enhanced graphical fidelity and more efficient development processes. In the future and with more experience, it will lead to faster creation and implementation of game features and design-led tweaks. 

In essence, FM25 is the starting point for the studio’s next 20 years. 

In this update, we giving you a first look at the brand-new User Interface [UI] that gives a flavour of what Unity enables us to do. There’s also transparency over a few tough decisions we’ve had to make affecting some of the ways a minority of our managers play the game. 

Before we get into that, as you know, we have been working on adding women’s football to Football Manager for several years now. I can confirm that we have already secured multiple licenses for FM25, and we’re confident more will follow. 

Full details of which leagues will be playable will be revealed in the coming months, but, yes, you will be able to seamlessly move between managing men’s and women’s teams. One game, one ecosystem.

Reviewing our approach

When I first spoke about the changes that were coming for FM25 in last June’s Development Update, I emphasised that a new UI has always been key to our thinking.

The question we asked ourselves in the development of this project was “would we do it in the same way if we had our time again?” 

Over the last year, we’ve applied that question to every single feature and screen in FM. These conversations and processes have led to huge changes across some areas of the game. I’ll be talking about some of them today, but you’ll need to wait a little bit longer for the rest. 

As well as “would we do it the same way” we also asked ourselves some other tough questions: “would we have done this at all?” and, importantly, “do we have the time required to do this to the highest possible standard, in our first cycle of a new era?” 

We’ve been creating games for 30 years now, so we’re used to big decisions. Many of those we’ve taken have been informed by the way you play. As you may or may not know, we collect anonymous data on how people play FM to help us design each annual iteration. Crunching those numbers shows us how many players interact with something — in a number of those instances, we’ve seen that almost no one has used them outside of our internal Quality Assurance team. 

So, I’m taking this opportunity to inform you of some cuts we’ve made thus far and why. While some of the features we’ve taken out no one will miss, others are used more regularly by a small proportion of our FM24 PC player base. 

What’s changing in FM25?

First, let’s talk about the features and modes that won’t be immediately available in Football Manager 25:

Touchline Shouts

The most used feature that won’t be included in FM25 is Touchline Shouts and these won’t be back for the foreseeable future. 
Shouts have been in the series for many years and, to be frank, I’ve never been happy with them. A “shout” should happen instantly, but they only came into effect after the ball had gone out of play. It also wasn’t clear to players how long the shout lasted for. So, for the time being, touchline shouts are gone from the game. 

I do really want them to come back, but they’ll only reappear if and when we can do them properly. 

Social Media Screen and the Data Chalkboard

To optimise both the UI and the User Experience (UX), we’ve taken out the bespoke social media screen for FM25. Don’t worry: all the key information from this will still appear in other game areas, and supporters are still an integral part of the game.

With the data used in football continually evolving and developing, we’ve also thought hard about how that is displayed in FM. Most of the existing data metrics and visualisations will still be in FM25 and we’re already working on further visualisations that will be added in future editions of FM. However, the Chalkboard, which was additional individual and team data accessed via player profiles, has been removed. With the introduction of the Data Hub in recent years, which is much better at presenting analytical data to you, the Chalkboard became superfluous and its usage dropped from 10% to below 1%. 

Create-A-Club

We know that this is our most popular mode away from Career and Network Career mode, with 5% of you using Create-A-Club on the platforms it's available. That said, this percentage has been steadily declining.

We can’t improve the Create-A-Club experience to the level we’re looking for before this year’s launch. So, we’ve decided not to rush it, and will instead bring it back in Football Manager 26 with lots of changes and improvements.

Versus mode

A personal favourite of mine, we know that the people who do play Versus tend to do so multiple times. However, it’s also only been played by 0.5% of our audience. 

We haven’t started the re-design of Versus mode yet. We do still like it, but it may be superseded by something else or return in a completely different form. 

Challenge mode

Part of our Console, Touch, and Mobile series, Challenge mode is currently scheduled to return completely revamped in either Football Manager 26 or Football Manager 27. 

It was popular when first launched but its use away from Mobile has dropped dramatically over the last few years and is now played by fewer than 0.5% of our audience. 

We’re currently debating how and when Challenge mode will come back to ensure it returns with the best and most immersive experience possible.

Fantasy Draft 

This mode will not be playable day one of FM25 but will return much-improved later in the cycle alongside the Main Data Update. Mid-cycle feature releases are something that will become more regular for the series moving forward.
 
When we first envisioned Fantasy Draft mode, we saw its potential as an esport. Over the years, we know that many of you have used the mode in this way – and a few tournaments have been run here and there in various guises.
 
We had already made the decision to remove Fantasy Draft from FM25 day one when we had a very interesting reach out from someone in the esports space, with two decades of experience of organising tournaments and developing events, got in touch with us...
 
We’ve therefore decided to partner with FIFAe, FIFA’s esports division, on an invitational FIFAe World Cup of Football Manager which takes place in Liverpool from August 29th to September 1, 2024. Using Football Manager 2024, 24 players will contest the tournament representing their nation on the biggest stage. Not only a FIFAe World Cup title is on the line – also $100,000 in prize money are up for grabs!

FIFA’s esports activities started in 2004 and developed into a professional sport in recent years – while breaking down boundaries between football and gaming for the sports we all love.
 
Through what is essentially a test run, we’ll be collaborating with FIFAe to explore how we can jointly realise our esports potential. We’ll evaluate this together how the tournament performs and investigate the development of Fantasy Draft and, potentially, the first qualifiers on the Road to the FIFAe World Cup 2025 of Football Manager using the new Fantasy Draft in 2025.
 
Everyone involved is keen on generating first learnings and to build a solid groundwork for potential future events. Regardless of the outcomes of the first test event, we’ll be bringing Fantasy Draft back bigger and better.

In the meantime, enjoy FIFAe’s announcement of this year’s invitational including Arsène Wenger. Do you want to compete yourself? Sign up on FIFA.GG to get notified about local competitions.

A new UI for a new era

Now, on to a major new change you’ll experience on day one of FM25…

I spoke earlier about how the UI will be very different. While we know how vital it is to get this right, what is equally important is the UX. 

With the new UI, our team have built powerful design and technical foundations that can be easily scaled and improved in the future. This means that every future addition will strengthen the UX without compromising consistency in our UI.

We’ve spent years researching these changes, learning how different types of people play our games: from first time players through to our most experienced.

With these insights, we needed to find a way to make all the key information available at the right times while not overwhelming our players. And we know that’s a tough balance. 

The same is true of crafting a design that’s platform agnostic, enabling ease of play whether you’ve got a mouse and keyboard, a controller, or even a touch screen. 

In tackling this challenge, we worked very closely with the engineers at Unity to adapt their engine to give us the flexibility and dynamics we need from a UI perspective. We’ll be talking about this journey in more detail at the forthcoming Unite event in September, covering more of the technical details of how we worked together to make the FM25 UI a reality. 

Of course, we’ll share most of that with you shortly after the conference, but, for now, we wanted to give you a first taste of the upcoming changes.

Introducing Tiles and Cards

FM25’s new UI/UX is driven by what we have called a “tile and card” system.

A “tile” is a panel of information with multiple different states, from small amounts of information to larger “cards” which contain more material. 

Our Design team wanted to create something that would help to build a sense of exploration for every player to reveal the depth and detail of Football Manager.

In this system, the tiles are a way of building curiosity by providing a snapshot of information, while clicking through into cards rewards your interest with further detail.

Tiles come in multiple different sizes that we call ‘states’ – this is so that we can use the information appropriately in various different screens and scenarios. 

Below is an example of one tile, Player Form, in these different states. For those who find the description above overly technical, this visual gives important context. 

 

FM25 Demo 1

 

And then, in the screenshot below you can see what happens when you click on the form tile - it opens up a “card” with more information.

 

FM25 Demo 2

 

This design reduces the volume of screens in-game, making navigation easier without compromising on detail. Less walls of text is a good thing, right? (he says 2,000 + words in :)

Goodbye Inbox, Hello Portal

Another facet of our UI work has been studying the constant evolution in the way people interact, communicate, and consume information. Historically the screen that people spend the most time on in FM has been the Inbox – essentially, your in-game email. For a while, this has felt quite old school given that modern football managers spend way more time on their phones than laptops. 

So, welcome to what we now call your “Portal”. 

The Portal will be a richer window to the wider footballing universe. It’ll give you far better tools to develop your story through the Agenda and Messages sections, but also deliver you more insight into what’s happening elsewhere via News and Matches. 

 

FM25 Demo 3

 

Finally, I want to share one more screen that shows off the potential of the new tile and card system. This is the new screen that you’ll see between your match highlights – more information on how it all works will follow during our gameplay rollout in September. 

 

FM25 Demo 4

 

We know these changes represent a big shift from past editions of Football Manager. We’ve been making games for a long time and know from previous experience, research, and wider industry cooperation, that UI changes can take time to get used to. But, we’ve done our homework and could not be more confident that the direction we’re heading in is the right one. 

How can you help?

We also want your help to validate that direction. In the coming weeks, FMFC members within an initial, reasonable travel vicinity will receive an email to surface their interest and availability to come to our studio in London and help with the continued testing of FM25’s UI/UX. Depending on interest and uptake, we may well cast the net further. 

We’re planning to run this through September into early October, so if you’re not already an FMFC member and want to get involved, please subscribe now. Be sure to opt-in to receive marketing or we won’t be able to email you. 

A further taste of what’s to come…

Thanks for your time and reading so far. That’s almost it, but I’ve got a few other snippets to leave you with… 

Football Manager 25’s release date will be confirmed in early September, with pre-orders opening at the same time. We’ll begin unveiling new gameplay elements shortly thereafter. As you can see from what we’ve shared here, and have already revealed, there’s going to be a lot to dive into – make sure you are signed up to FMFC and are following @FootballManager across socials.

In addition to FM25 and the FIFAe World Cup of Football Manager, there are a few other things we’re looking at, including the return of an official Football Manager Podcast. 

In collaboration with a big player in the audio space and using an external host and production team, the Podcast will be looking beyond FM and into the wider world of football. Something for everyone, you might say. There’ll be interviews, features, and stories from within the professional game, as well as some segments enabling us to go into our games in a bit more detail. 

Thanks for reading.

Cheers,

Miles 

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