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Interview: FM director on how Ronaldo and Messi make it hard to keep football games realistic

Miles Jacobson is the director of Football Manager Miles Jacobson OBE is the studio director of Sports Interactive, the developers of the famous F ...

Miles Jacobson is the director of Football Manager

Miles Jacobson OBE is the studio director of Sports Interactive, the developers of the famous Football Manager series. In an exclusive interview with Sportskeeda, he spoke about the latest installment FM 2015 (which was released on the 7th of November last year), the game’s growth over the next decade, Ronaldo and Messi making things hard to keep the game realistic among other topics.

Q: Are you happy with the reception of FM 2015 so far? 

In general, yes. The vast majority seem to be enjoying it.

Q: What do you personally think is the most impressive feature that you have added to the game this year?

It’s like asking me who my favourite child is! There are lots of new features, each one added because of its own merits. The game is a sum of all of its parts.

Q: Does the age of a manager affect his attributes in the game?

No.

Q: Fans have been complaining about players getting injured quite often. Do you think it is a bug that needs to be resolved or is it the manager's fault?

Injuries in the game are lower than they are in real life, so it’s a conspiracy theory – those people complaining don’t seem to realise that it’s completely normal for a team to have 4 or 5 players out at any one time, and could have more than that. Man Utd at points this season have had 13 first team squad players out injured, for example.

As they have done in real life, and as other clubs do too, if you want to lessen the chance of injuries you need to lower the intensity of your tactics & training, and ensure you are looking at overall condition and match fitness. But that won’t mean no injuries – just lessens the chance of players getting hurt.

Q: If you speak about a player, do other clubs really get notified about his availability? Is there any benefit in going silent throughout the transfer?

That depends on dozens of different factors. It can happen based on said indices, but there are lots of different outcomes.

Q: The commentary ticker has been largely unchanged for a number of years now. Are there any plans to update it to make it to something more flexible?

That’s not actually true – there are commentary lines added and changed pretty much every year.

Q: To compile the database for the game, you have scouts almost everywhere in the world. How long does it take for a scout to come up with reports for a particular club?

We have 1,300 scouts around the world. They work throughout the year on data – some do multiple clubs, some just look after one.

Q: How difficult is it to judge the potential ratings of a particular player?

Each player is different. So each would take a different amount of time.

Q: With their insane goal scoring records over the past few years, is it tough to keep Ronaldo and Messi in the same match engine as the other players?

At one point this year Ronaldo scored 14 goals in 8 games. If that happened inside FM we would have people crying bug and calling the game every name under the sun. So, sometimes we have to balance differently from the real world. If in testing they’re getting a goal a game that’s not a problem but if we were looking at testing and we were seeing 14 goals in 8 games, we’d be worried and we might fix something even though in real life it could happen.

Players like Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, even Adebayo Akinfenwa at AFC Wimbledon, are really difficult but they’re also the players we use for testing because if those players are underperforming in a specialist area, we’ll know there’s a problem. Thankfully in real life Ronaldo is on a goal drought now – so we know that when that happens in game, it’s not an issue.

Q: How do you see FM growing over the next 10 years?

We’re aiming to entertain as many people as possible with our work – that’ll include features that we want to add to our existing games (FM, FMC & FMH) as well as the launch of FMO in South Korea next month, which is a very different way to play one of our games.

Q: Schools in Aberdeen are considering to add FM as a part of their PE course. How do you feel about that?

It makes sense, and they aren’t the first to do so – we’ve also been used in maths classes, business studies classes, and have helped people learn English (and, I expect, other languages too). I wish I had such a fun way to learn when I was at school!

Q: Do you think FM has changed the way how people view football?

It is part of a group of football associated products that have, for sure. Most of the stat companies have been open about our works influence on them, as do a lot of data analysts who work in the sport. But then play-by-mail and other football management games influenced myself & the Collyers a lot, as did books like the Rothman’s guides. Now magazines like the Blizzard are taking it another step.

Q: What's your favourite FM installment? Do you play FM yourself? What's your favorite team and tactic?

Always the latest one – if it wasn’t going to be, there’d be little point releasing it. And it would be very difficult for me to direct the game if I didn’t play it – so of course I do, a lot! As for my tactic, that depends on the team or the players. I released my main tactic for the game in return for a charity donation late last year, so lots of people have seen it!

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