TGS 2023: Football Manager 2024 Debuts J.League, Is A Love Letter To Fans That Places Players First

2004 proved to be a pivotal year for the football management simulation game Football Manager. It was the year that the game switched names, after being known as Championship Manager since 1992. Since then, the game has grown from strength to strength, and the next version, Football Manager 2024 (FM24), launches globally across PC, Mac, PS5, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch and mobile (exclusively on Netflix) from 7 November. 

In fact, FM24 is the 20th and most complete edition in the Football Manager series to date, and the claim is not without merit as the franchise will also see the debut of the popular Japan League, otherwise known as J.League, which is the most requested league by fans, and it has taken the studio 19 years to get the license.

Sports Interactive Studio Director Miles Jacobson assures fans that everything is in the game, and the Meiji Yasuda Insurance Ltd J.1 League, to the J.2 League and J.3 Leagues are fully licensed and playable inside Football Manager for the first time. This means the FM24 fully unlocks Japan as a playable nation in-game, and all 60 J.League clubs will carry its own official logos, kits and player photos from the 2023 J.League season.

“This has been a lot about polish, making it the best version of Football Manager that there has ever been. But there are some nice surprises coming as well,” shares Jacobson to Geek Culture at this year’s Tokyo Game Show 2023.

“So hopefully we can deliver the best experience possible this year, with more leagues than ever before, more languages than ever before, and on more platforms than ever before.”

Over the years, Sports Interactive’s franchise has maintained incredibly close parallels to the football world, with over 3,000 footballers helping to test the game each year. The team also has access to managers, coaches, scouts and directors of football, asking questions about features that the team has been thinking about working on in the future, to get their valuable ideas and input. 

There are still surprises to come, such as the emergence of the Saudi Pro League and Pep Guardiola innovating with new ways to use players, but the foundation has always been built on industry expertise and player feedback.

Just like football, Sports Interactive has had to evolve with time, with a collaborative design department coming to fruition just three years ago. Previously, development was largely driven by the game director, but now, there are more voices that can be heard that will affect the future of the franchise beyond FM24. Such as how player feedback is globalised, with the team relying on external experts positioned around the world that relay player concerns from social media platforms, and forums that can be addressed.

“Their feedback is invaluable, particularly when they’re constructive with their criticism rather than destructive. But it’s been a bedrock of the studio since before I was there. At the end of the day, without that community, we wouldn’t get to do what we do. If we didn’t have people buying the game over the years, we wouldn’t still be able to do what we’re doing now.”

It is the need to give back to the players that brought about the new functionality of save game transfers, something that was important for the studio to get right.

“We were looking at consumers who were playing the game. All of a sudden, that person who spent nine months playing their game have two weeks to either buy the new game or they were going to lose that save forever. It goes back to how hard people work to be able to afford to buy the game or to subscribe to one of the services, we wanted to do this for a long time.”

Feature details have already begun rolling out across @FootballManager socials and footballmanager.com including enhancements to the transfer market and club finances that mimic the theatre of the window in real life, adding new dimension and dynamism to players’ managerial career in-game. Further upgrades to the PC/Mac version, including developments to the Match Engine and a Set Pieces refresh, will be detailed over the next couple of weeks. As for the new features and gameplay improvements for FM24 console and FM24 mobile, they will be revealed during the week of 22 October.

Players pre-ordering FM24 on PC and Mac from a participating digital retailer will be able to kick off their managerial career ahead of schedule with Early Access. This will be available via Steam and the Epic Games Store approximately two weeks prior to the official release date and single-player careers started in that period can be carried forward when the game updates for launch on 7 November.