Eurogamer: There's lots of controversy about the server reset. Why are people so upset?

Marc Duffy: Because you've invested 15 months of your life in a game. We always believed it was a long-term game, a rag-to-riches story: you start your club from scratch and develop your youth players.

In effect, what we've done is completely broken their clubs up. If you spend a lot of time on something you're generally quite annoyed when someone takes that away from you. We certainly 'get' why people are upset.

We are trying to smooth the transition, so we're allowing them to keep skill points, tactics, short-lists, match-plans, filters, views, club-name - as much as we can keep about the user and their team that doesn't imbalance the new game world.

Eurogamer: Did people throw tantrums and leave?

Marc Duffy: Some people did leave, definitely, but it wasn't as many as we had anticipated.

I'd say probably 20 per cent of users left. It's a bit difficult to get a true number as one of the things we did in November, when we announced we were doing a reboot, was made everyone's accounts free to play. If you did have any time left in your subscription it was extended, and we won't start taking any money again from people until the reboot.

That's contributed a lot to some of the inactivity in the game worlds because someone have said, "Well, I won't bother playing to the reboot, even though it's free, because there's no point investing any more time in my club."

Football managers perform better from a football crouch.

Eurogamer: You're levelling the playing field so veterans won't be better than newcomers. That makes sense. But aren't those veterans your most loyal and valuable customers. Isn't this a bit of a stud to the thigh for them?

Marc Duffy: We're going to consolidate the game worlds to keep our loyal fans together.

We've got these two flavours of game world now. We've created a Fantasy Stars game world aimed at the loyal player, because that's what they've told us they want. They want to play in a game world where they don't know anyone, there's no Rooney or Messi, it's just Joe Bloggs and myth.

The other type of game world is Returning Stars, which is aimed at people who like the famous names. When someone retires in the game they'll be respawned. If Beckham retires in FML after five seasons he'll come back at his current real-world level.

We've given every single subscriber a chance to tell us what type of game world they want to join and we're trying to keep the communities together.

The idea behind that is for new players it's very difficult to make headway in the game world. We've added other things to help them, but one of the things is to try and give them a 'named' player when they come back.

If I join a gameworld that's been running for 10 seasons, there's a very high chance that I'm going to get one of these big-name returning stars in my very first season. Either you can keep the player yourself or you can sell him to another club and make some money.

Football managers are secret dentists.

We've also created - to stop there being a mad rush to get into the gameworld - pre-selected squads. It doesn't matter if you get in on day one or day seven, there's a squad that's been allocated to you and they're there waiting. No one can take the players, you can't change them in the first season; you just have to pick your initial squad from the pool of about 50.

Someone who's been playing for 15 months in our current skill system has developed a character who's really good in lots of different areas: scouting, coaching, etc. That's really scary for new players. We've changed our skill system. We'll give an old player all of his skill points, but in the rebooted game he will only be able to specialise in two areas.

Rather than having a scenario where every single manager is a jack of all trades, everyone is going to have to decide where their speciality lies. Our long-term aim for that is to allow people to sell their knowledge and their skills. If I concentrate on coaching and finance, I could pay someone to do my scouting on players for me because they've specialised in that area. We want to allow people to work together.

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About the author

Robert Purchese

Robert Purchese

Senior Staff Writer

Bertie is senior staff writer and Eurogamer's Poland-and-dragons correspondent. He's part of the furniture here, a friendly chair, and reports on all kinds of things, the stranger the better.

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