Those looking to sink their teeth into another year of the highs and lows of football management are going to need to wait a bit longer. Developer Sports Interactive has confirmed that Football Manager 2021 has been delayed due to the disruptive impact of COVID-19.
“What I can confirm today is that, despite all the problems going on in the world, there will be new Football Manager games released later this year,” Studio director Miles Jacobson said in a recent statement. “They will be delivered a little later than we’d originally planned, but they’ll have exceptionally strong feature sets… albeit different to those we thought we’d settled on back in January when I completed my ‘dream feature set’.”
Considering the last five entries in the series have all launched in November, it’s a safe bet to assume that this was the original plan before the current situation put paid to that.
“It has taken a monumental effort to make this possible,” Jacobson said. “The flexibility the team have shown through this period has been incredible; we’ve been changing scope, both upwards and downwards, on an almost weekly basis (and often as a result of changes in people’s personal circumstances). I firmly believe you’ll all appreciate the improvements and new features this year–and for us to have created the games that we’re going to deliver later this year during a global pandemic is something else I’m very proud of.”
It’s not all bad news either. Sports Interactive remains financially healthy despite the issues posed by COVID-19. Rather than being forced to lay off employees, the studio has accelerated its hiring programme over the last few months and added more than 20 new staff members since lockdown began.
It also allowed people to play Football Manager 2020 for free for a fortnight back in March (as more and more people found themselves quarantined at home), and the studio has taken part in numerous charity initiatives recently, such as the UKIE-managed Games for Carers programme and the Humble Black Lives Matter bundle.
“Our games will be on more platforms and available on more stores than ever before when they’re released later this year but, with regards to features and release dates, it’s a little too early for us to talk about the specifics right now,” Jacobson continues. “Please cut us a little bit of slack and rest assured that we will once again deliver a set of games that provide hundreds of hours of entertainment and remain the best value for money on the market–and something to help you escape from the real world at the moment, at least for a while.”