First of all, we haven’t spoken to anyone at retail at all yet. It’s still too early to talk about distribution models, but I expect we’re going to get lots of calls and questions in the next few weeks.
There are no plans that are set in stone. We have made the client deliberately small at 11MB, which makes it very easy to download and start playing. If we do a retail package, we’re pretty sure that customers will be buying a subscription.
We’d welcome questions and suggestions from retail because this is completely new to us. We hope it will give us access to a wider audience than ever before.
I certainly don’t see sales of Football Manager falling because of Football Manager Live. I would expect there to be a crossover point, where some people who play FM will also buy into FML, but also that the game will get a different audience as well – one of lapsed gamers. We know that we lose gamers as well as gaining new ones each year.
FML should attract a more mainstream audience – the kind of people who play Fantasy Football in national newspapers. We’re also going after people who are keen to set up leagues with their mates.
Going in a more mainstream direction with Football Manager itself would have been the wrong thing to do – it’s the most popular cult product I can think of.
Live is an extension of that, whilst being able to appeal to those people that we aren’t currently entertaining. The initial release will be PC and Mac. If it comes out on any other format, we’d want it to be playable across all of them.
We’ll be launching with an English-only version, and other language iterations will probably come down the line – as will FML on other platforms. Community is core to Live. People will become friends or have an arch nemesis – it’s vital to the replayability. We’re confident because our forum has always been incredibly popular. There aren’t many people who could change brand as successfully as we did, and much of that was the sheer weight of people spreading the word online.
We’ve seen the online success of poker over the last few years and elements have come from areas like that. We’ve also looked at dozens of MMOs and casual games, as well as online backgammon and online chess, and they have all had an influence. The idea is for the subscription system to cost the same as a few pints per month – but we don’t know if that’s London prices or Manchester prices just yet.