At Microsoft's recent X02 Europe event in Spain, UK-based Sports Interactive announced that, while PC players can look forward to Championship Manager 4, the company will be releasing Championship Manager Season: 02/03 exclusively for the Xbox before the end of the year. The game, like Championship Manager, which launched alongside the Xbox in Europe in March, is based on the Championship Manager 3 engine. Earlier today, we caught up with Miles Jacobson of Sports Interactive, and asked him about what new features the sequel might have.
GameSpot: You've recently announced that CM Season: 02/03 will be exclusive to the Xbox. Is this basically the same game as the first Xbox version of Championship Manager with updated stats, or will it boast some new features?
Miles Jacobson: It will have a couple of nice new touches, and we are working on optimization, although time is very tight.
GS: What's the reasoning behind the Xbox getting Season: 02/03 rather than a version of the forthcoming Championship Manager 4?
MJ: Because we don't believe that we could get an Xbox version of CM4 out during this season, and we don't see why Xbox fans shouldn't get a game with this season's data in it.
GS: Sports Interactive has always been very good at listening to the fans of the PC incarnations of Championship Manager. Have you received much feedback from players of the Xbox version?
MJ: We've had pretty good feedback--everyone seems to enjoy playing the game, which is important, and we've had no reports of technical problems. There have been a few suggestions made that we are trying to add to CM Season: 02/03.
GS: Do you think the people playing the Xbox version of Championship Manager at home are the same ones who have enjoyed the PC incarnations in the past, or have you managed to attract a whole new following from within the console gaming community?
MJ: I think it's mainly new players, which is very exciting for us.
GS: We've heard that Championship Manager 4 for the PC will feature online play. Given the impending launch of Xbox Live, is this something you've considered incorporating into the Season: 02/03 edition?
MJ: Yes, we did. But we unfortunately didn't have the time to add it in. It's a very big job indeed!
GS: One of the minor drawbacks of Championship Manager on the Xbox was that gamers weren't able to download any kind of updates pertaining to player transfers, rule changes, and the like. Any chance of this being possible in Season: 02/03 or a subsequent Xbox edition of CM?
MJ: That's not up to us. Ask Microsoft!
GS: Does it surprise you that CM has been so well received on the Xbox, given that the text-based visuals really don't take advantage of the console's most obvious strength?
MJ: No, not really. A great game is a great game--graphics are something that are unimportant to me, personally. I'm more likely to watch a game that is pretty, but I'll play a game with great gameplay.
GS: Do you play any soccer or soccer management games besides CM, and if so, which are your favorites and why?
MJ: Pro Evolution is my favorite, because it's so damn good. I do try every footy game, management or otherwise, when they come out, because I'm an addict, but CM and Pro Evolution are the only two I go back to time and time again.
GS: If you could incorporate any one feature from a rival soccer management game into the next CM game, what would it be? Would you even consider a real-time TV-style-match engine as an alternative to the text-based commentary?
MJ: All the 3D engines being used at the moment are, in my opinion, fatally flawed and detract from the gameplay experience rather than adding to it. I think the only option that I'd add from a personal point of view would be the ability to press "escape" and change Watford's money situation to 100 million pounds like I used to do in the original Kevin Tom's Football Manager.
GS: How different is it developing CM for a console as opposed to a PC? The lack of a mouse is an obvious consideration, but are there any other major drawbacks or benefits to working with the Xbox?
MJ: The speed and memory issues are annoying, as it means that you can't run as many leagues as you can on the PC due to slowdown. Apart from that, there have been no real problems.
GS: Finally, if you were working in a games store and some Xbox-owning soccer fans who've never played a management game before walked in looking for a sports game, how would you sell them CM, assuming that they're unlikely to be won over by the screenshots on the box?
MJ: Ask them whether they want to own a game so engrossing that it will take over their lives. If they say "yes," then CM is the only option.
GS: Miles, thanks very much for your time.