Interviews// Exclusive SPOnG Interview with Sports Interactive MD, Miles Jacobson

Posted 1 Nov 2005 14:32 by
SPOnG: Most of us know who Sports Interactive are from Championship Manager & Football Manager. But to a non-gamer or someone who isnít aware of your games, how do you describe who SI is and what it does? What do you tell your Gran you do?

Miles Jacobson: Unfortunately, I don't have a Gran to tell anything to, but if an alien landed I'd describe us as a UK based independent sports management simulation specialist developer. We cover football, ice hockey and baseball now, not just football.

SPOnG: How long has SI been around? Can you tell us a little about your history?

MJ: The company was started in 1994, although Ov & Paul Collyer, the founders of SI, had already made the first Championship Manager game by then. They actually started as bedroom coders, making the first game themselves in their bedrooms in a farmhouse in Shropshire whilst still at school, and getting a deal for it, which would be even harder to do nowadays. I got involved in 1996, first as a beta tester and researcher, then looking after the business side, before becoming MD in 2001.

Over the years, we've sold more than eight million games and, historically, have been just a PC and Mac developer, but we've also released games on Xbox (CM01/02 & 02/03), PlayStation (CM Quiz, developed by King of the Jungle from our idea) and are working on games now for Xbox 360, PSP and a couple of formats that will surprise people that we haven't announced yet. We've now got 35 full time staff and over 1,500 researchers and translators around the world, although we've grown very organically over the years, and have only had one member of staff leave us in that time.

SPOnG: How have you gone about establishing a new brand with Football Manager and what are the plans for this series in the short and long term?

MJ: We took a big risk and, thankfully, it's paid off. We have had a fantastic community who have been very supportive for many years, and a lot of the name change awareness came about from word of mouth from ourselves, the community, and the press. The short term plans and the long term plans are the same - to keep improving the game each year and listen to our customers to ensure that the game goes in a direction that the fans want it to go in.

Sega have been great to work with and put their money where their mouth was on the marketing side of things, and that has also helped massive - FM2006 is already shaping up to be our best selling game ever, and that's not even taking into account the handheld and console versions coming in March.

SPOnG: How will the PSP version of Football Manager differ from the PC/Mac version? Who will publish it?

MJ: Our deal with Sega is an exclusive 5 year deal (except for Out of the Park Baseball Manager, which we are self-publishing via digital download) so it will be published by them.

When we decided to work on PSP, the idea was to make the game specifically for the handheld experience, so it's pretty different to the PC/Mac version due to being designed from the floor up. It's the perfect game to play during half time of a football game, or whilst on the bus, and is a real pick up and play experience. Of course, you can still play for hours on end, and it still has the "just one more game" factor, but the PC game just wouldn't have worked on a handheld.
Miles Jacobson with Oliver and Paul Collyer
Miles Jacobson with Oliver and Paul Collyer
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