Championship Manager PC "on hold"

"The boxed PC game is on its way out."

The core PC Championship Manager series is "on hold", Beautiful Game Studios boss Roy Meredith has told Eurogamer. When it will come back, he "really, really couldn't say".

"We were fixated on one format; a format that was in decline in boxed copies. It didn't allow us any flexibility or agility: we weren't able to look in other directions because we had this behemoth of a PC game," explained Meredith.

"With the market shrinking it was quite a risky or dangerous situation to be in. So we took the decision to put the PC game on hold and build up our business in other areas."

For how long? "I don't know yet," he shrugged. "I want to get stuff like Shanda [new partnership with Chinese online games giant] up and running, the iPhone property established.

"I really, really couldn't say."

Square Enix dramatically downsized Beautiful Game Studios at the end of 2009. The switch to iPhone and online - an MMO seems most likely - might have been more of a necessity that Meredith was willing to admit. And how prosperous those new avenues turn out to be may be directly linked to whether Championship Manager proper ever returns.

"Square Enix, as much as they love us, are not going to pay us for no returns," accepted Meredith. "It's a new approach - maybe I ought to go to them and ask!"

Championship Manager has played substitute to Sports Interactive's Football Manager series ever since CM creators Paul and Oliver Collyer split from Eidos to establish SI/FM under SEGA's rule in 2004. But Roy Meredith was adamant that the dominance of Football Manager played no part - "none whatsoever" - in the suspension of Championship Manager.

That blame lies with the ailing PC market. "It's purely market conditions," reaffirmed Meredith, "and I suppose [SI/FM are] part of that market, but sales are shrinking in that marketplace and we wanted to get a number of formats out."

"I don't think boxed copy on PC is going to last much longer. It just feels like the boxed PC game is on its way out."

Meredith said PC users were smarter about how they shopped - choosing digital distributors like Steam or the EA shop or the Eidos shop over high street retailers.

"Because of that we've seen retail almost ignore PC," he sighed.

"You go to any GAME store, you go to HMV and you'll be lucky to find... I was in GAME at the weekend and I couldn't believe it, how little there was. I saw a game, Bus Magnate I think it was, and I thought, 'Wow, is that what the PC market has come down to.'"

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