Sports Interactive have begun a “multi-year project” to bring women’s football to Football Manager. The game will not be separate from the current title, but incorporate the players, coaches, leagues, and all competitions into one game. 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.”
Jacobson knows that Football Manager is a large platform and can make a difference. "We want to be a part of the process that puts women’s football on an equal footing with the men’s game," he said. "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.”
Don’t expect it to arrive with the next yearly update. The studio wants it to happen ASAP, and have been working on it long enough to have already completed some motion capture data. However, representing the game as authentically as possible will take time. The current player database has had years of input and testing, something that they’ve had to start from scratch when adding women footballers. The data needs to be acquired across multiple teams and leagues, and it also has to be interpreted correctly.
As Jacobson points out, it’s a mixture of similarities and differences that they need to balance: “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. 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 business side of things requires balancing, too. Women’s football has completely different transfer costs and wage budgets. It’s going to be a lot of work, it's going to cost a lot to do, and there’s not even a hint of a release date, but Sports Interactive are committed to making a Football Manager game where you seamlessly control men’s or women’s team. Good on ya, folks.