Sports Interactive boss Miles Jacobson has said the developer will soft-launch Football Manager Live, its first stab at a touchline hairdryer MMO, later this year.
"Well, Football Manager Live will be released [in 2008], but we're not having a release day, or anything like that," Jacobson told GamesIndustry.biz.
"So this year there'll be a limited amount of game worlds launched, which are available for people to pre-order at the moment, and they should be released before the end of the year. Then there'll be a proper push on FML early next year."
Initially, three month, six month and twelve month subscriptions will be available. Retail copies are to be held back until 2009, and only English servers will exist for the time being.
This soft launch helps Jacobson and team slowly build the community and effectively continue to stress test the game, avoiding the "million different problems" of release date player stampedes.
But the game is definitely finished, said Jacobson, and paying subscribers can expect free updates every three to four months rather than expansions. The first of these patches is due in January.
"I understand what you're saying, that people might think we've just got extra people testing the game, but the game is done. So from that perspective, it's not the case," added Jacobson.
"The first version is done, and we're planning for the first update, which should be out in January - and then every few months from there. The game development team are currently working on the code for that January update."
Football Manager 2009, for PC and PSP, is also due out this year on 14th November.
Included are flashy features such as a 3D match engine and press conferences and a rewritten transfer system.