Last month, SEGA and Sports Interactive released Football Manager 2024 on Apple Arcade (Touch), Netflix (Mobile), consoles, PC, and even Game Pass. If you missed my detailed review covering many versions of the game, read it here. Following the launch, I had a chance to talk to Sports Interactive about features on different platforms, working with Apple Arcade, cross save, Switch physical releases, and a lot more. The focus will be Football Manager 2024 Touch, and I spoke to Producer Neil Harper and PR & Content Executive Andrew Sinclair from the team here.
TouchArcade (TA): This year, Football Manager 2024 ships on more platforms than ever before. How do you decide what features to prioritize adding into each platform when development begins?
Neil Harper (NH): Speaking from my experience in the Touch and Console teams, we consider a number of factors when deciding which features to introduce in a given year. These include the vision of our Design team, player habits & analytics data, player sentiment and feedback from both our QA teams and Studio Director Miles Jacobson. We also consider the work that the PC team have committed to and then look to tailor some of their additions to ensure they fit the various Touch and Console platforms from both a gameplay and practical functionality perspective.
TA: Football Manager 2024 Touch’s standout feature from the get go is the interface optimized for iPhone screens. This year, it feels like a proper game tailored for iPhone as well as iPad rather than being a tablet game ported down. How much work went into the iPhone side of things here?
NH: We reviewed feedback from Football Manager 2023 Touch and understood the frustrations of some users with the size of the menu options available.
We were keen to make the iPhone version of the title as accessible as possible and therefore a lot of time was spent to ensure that this was an improvement on last year’s version while also ensuring the best iPhone experience with both touch and controller input.
As a team we always try to remain agile and responsive, so we’re already looking at the feedback on this year’s changes and discussing how we can drive further improvements to the interface in the future.
TA: Has there been any additional work for iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max?
NH: When we are developing new features for our Touch games, we always consider how this will look and function on an iPhone.
This means both older models and the latest and greatest. With the newer models of iPhone, for example, we have to consider and cater for the Dynamic Island and ensure that there’s enough space within our user interface.
TA: If we go for a reductive way of differentiating the versions of Football Manager 2024, you have PC followed by Console followed by Touch and then Mobile with features and complexity reducing in that order. Do you think we will reach a point where you have one version of the game on all platforms with just the interface changing?
Andrew Sinclair (AS): We have done a lot of user research over the years and we understand that each of our four titles all serve very different audiences with differing needs and playing personas.
So, our priority as a studio is ensuring that we continue to serve all of those people by ensuring that each edition of Football Manager is optimized to be the best version possible for that format and audience.
TA: What is your favorite feature in Football Manager 2024 Touch that makes it stand out compared to the last few years for those who haven’t played the game in a while.
NH: That’s a tough question and not an easy one to answer!
I’d probably say the new Dynamics feature. This has been present in the PC version of Football Manager for a few years but we’ve introduced it to FM24 Touch in a wholly different way.
Being able to set your own principles from the first day you take a job is a unique touch and the feature is wholly immersive, with your actions throughout the seasons being reflected in how your players buy-in to your vision and ultimately how they perform in training and on Matchdays.
TA: How has it been working with Apple and the Apple Arcade team for two years in a row now on the game.
NH: Working with Apple for the past two years has been an incredible opportunity. Both the Production and Marketing teams at Apple Arcade strive to ensure that the best game possible is released on their platform and are always receptive to our features and plans for the Football Manager Touch series.
The relationship between our team and theirs has gone from strength to strength since we first began on this venture.
TA: Are there plans to ever offer Switch and Apple Arcade save syncing since both are the same Touch version?
NH: Not at this time.
TA: Are there any plans to do a physical release on Switch?
AS: We have released a physical version of our Switch title in the past and we’re doing so once again with Football Manager 2024 Touch. This is only going live in selected Asian territories though, with some launching in early December and then Japan’s launch following in January 2024.
TA: What are the challenges at Sports Interactive for the developers working on multiple versions on a yearly franchise?
AS: It’s a big undertaking, certainly, but as we have specialized, dedicated teams working on each of these titles it’s actually more streamlined than you might anticipate from a development point of view.
There is a challenge for our Marketing team because they have to ensure that their strategy effectively communicates the new features and key information about all four editions. Our Customer Support team has to be agile too in understanding the complexities of each version across various devices in order to adequately support players who might have encountered bugs or are having technical issues.
The key for both of them though is constant communication internally with the relevant platform teams throughout the year, meaning that they know the feature set early and have access to builds and production updates.
TA: Is there a dedicated team working on each version or are there shared staff members?
AS: We have dedicated teams for all four versions of FM that we release on a yearly basis – FM, Touch, Console and Mobile. These teams include dedicated Quality Assurance Testers as well as producers and designers focused on delivering the best product possible on their specific platforms.
Some teams across the studio, such as our Research group, work with each of these individual platform teams throughout the year.
TA: How do you balance game features in Apple Arcade where there are no microtransactions while the console versions have those?
NH: We do have a number of in-app purchases available in Football Manager 2024 Console but these are designed to be fun extras without being essential to progressing in a save.
With FM23 Touch, we ran a series of events that offered players one-time use items such as a Dream Transfer that they could utilize within their saves. Look out for these once again with FM24 Touch.
TA: Are there plans to bring the in-game editor or pre-game editor to Apple Arcade in the future?
NH: Not at this time.
TA: So the game has controller support, but does it also have full keyboard mouse support on iPad?
NH: Yes, there is full keyboard and mouse support for people playing FM24 Touch on iPads.
TA: What would you like to add to FM Touch that you couldn’t add this year?
AS: While we would always love to add even more to each of our releases, we’re proud of the feature set in Football Manager 2024 Touch. From our perspective we feel that we have introduced things that will impact and improve everyone’s saved games, whether that’s carrying forward your career from FM23 Touch or setting up your new manager principles, and the feedback we’ve had so far from our players backs that up.
I’d like to thank Sports Interactive’s Producer Neil Harper and PR & Content Executive Andrew Sinclair and also Jennifer Tam from Apple for their time here.