Football Manager dev talks women's game: "We need to be doing it justice"
Adding the women's game to FM25 has been "an enormous amount of work".
On the latest episode of the One More Life podcast, host Rob Leane (RadioTimes.com Gaming Editor) is joined by Ant Farley (design manager for Sports Interactive on Football Manager) to kick off the new FM season and look ahead to the future of the franchise.
That future will include the addition of women's football in FM25.
"It's a really exciting time for the studio," Farley said, speaking at Immediate Media’s London office in the build-up to Football Manager 2024’s release.
"We're doing two games at once and it's challenging. It's very hard work at the moment, but it's very exciting."
With this year’s FM24 and next year’s FM25 both being developed in tandem, Farley explained how each instalment has its own major upgrades and challenges.
Said Farley: "Football Manager 24, we are really considering a love letter to Football Manager. This is the last version of this kind of Football Manager before the big, bold new horizon with 25.
"My role is in the design team, so I manage the group of creatives that are working on new features for the game. And the remit this year really was, 'Let's take what we've got and make it as good as we possibly can.'
"Some of those areas that might have been a bit underloved, we've been able to put a lot of focus into - set-pieces being one that I think will go down very well with the community.
"And it's really about making it the best possible last version of Football Manager before we get this brave new world with 25 that we've spoken about, and the change of game engine and the upgrade in visual fidelity that's going to give us, a whole new interface, which is an awful lot of work for my team at the moment."
On the podcast, Farley also looked ahead to Football Manager 2025, which will relaunch the series this time next year, with a new game engine running the show behind the scenes.
In the long-form interview, Farley touched upon a number of key features that will be added in FM25, one of which is the ability for gamers to manage women’s football teams for the first time.
Adding the women’s game into FM is, in Farley’s words, "an enormous amount of work".
He added: "We wanted to do it properly. And I think that people are going to realise what that means. The level of detail to which we simulate the men's game, we need to be doing the same for the women's game.
"We need to be doing it justice. So we're talking to a lot of people in the women's game to kind of help us on that journey, getting a lot of insight from some real big names. And yeah, the whole aim is to make it not a mode. Not a kind of, 'Hey, Women's Football Manager.' It's Football Manager.
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"Football is football, right? So it needs to be simulated alongside the men's game, which is going to be really complicated to implement in a lot of ways. But yeah, it's a challenge that's excited us all."
Farley confirmed that, in FM25 and beyond, players of these titles will be able to move freely between managerial roles in the men’s game and the women’s game, just like Phil Neville did in real life.
When asked about that, Farley said: "Exactly. You can be Phil Neville. And the Forest Green caretaker [Hannah Dingley], who they appointed as an interim recently.
"I know a couple of years ago, we put Emma Hayes in the game, with the possibility of her taking jobs in the men's game. Because we all think that's where it's headed, right?
"There's amazing talent in the women's game that will move to the men's game and vice versa, right? So, we want to make sure that it's future-proofed.
"It may be that there isn't much activity at the moment between the two, but that isn't going to be the case for long, we don't think.
"So, it's really important to make sure that this is foundational work that really helps us model realistically for the next 10, 20, 30 years."
You can hear the full interview on the One More Life podcast. It's a must-listen for FM fans!
Football Manager 2024 is out now. New episodes of One More Life will release every Wednesday between now and Christmas.
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