New Football Manager Online title co-built by Korean group

Sports Interactive shuffles staff in Asia push

London studio Sports Interactive is restructuring its workforce in a move to expand into the lucrative Asian market.

The Sega-owned studio develops annual editions of the uniquely successful PC title Football Manager, as well as an online spin-off called Football Manager Live.

Today the group announced a third project, an adaptation of Football Manager Live that will be tailored to the Asian market.

The new game, entitled Football Manager Online, will be co-developed by the Football Manager Live team.

Yet, as a new version of Football Manager Live is in production, Sports Interactive has decided to double the team’s size so it can manage work on Football Manager Online as well.

The Live team’s growth is thought to come in-house project transfers. However, Sports Interactive will be partnering its work with Korean internet portal company KTH.

It is said KTH will be responsible for half the Football Manager Online’s workload.

Sports Interactive added that it will “work very closely with KTH’s engineers who will be putting the server technology together for the project”.

KTH’s development team is based in Seoul, though some of the KTH team will move to London for a large part of the development process.

The move is reminiscent of recent action taken by rival football management developer Beautiful Game Studios, which last year initiated a staff shift to a Shanghai studio, albeit one fuelled by layoffs in Britain.

In a recent interview with Develop, Square Enix Europe CEO Phil Rogers hinted that the layoffs and Asian set-up were part of a broader plan:

“What happened was we looked at Championship Manager within the PC market and decided that actually we’re now best positioned to focus expand the brand in new ways,” he said.

“So the staff cuts was looking at our skills, looking at where we wanted to invest more, and where we felt we should invest less.”

If Beautiful Game Studios is pursuing the Asia markets, Sports Interactive will have today made it clear that it is fighting with the group on every possible battleground.

Football Manager Online is set for release towards the end of 2011 in Korea, with rollout in the wider Asian market following afterwards.

"Sega is extremely pleased to partner up with a great company like KTH and make the Football Manager series available to a wider range of gamers," said the publisher’s COO Okitane Usui.

“We look forward to effectively leveraging the strengths of both companies to bring out a new side of Football Manager that will appeal to users.”

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