Eidos has announced that Championship Manager 5 is on its way to both PlayStation 2 and Xbox. In development at Gusto Games, the console ports will be released in spring 2005, a few months after the PC version - which aims to be out this autumn in time to compete with Football Manager 2005, the game that the original CM developer, Sports Interactive, is currently working on.
Rumours that CM5 had been set for a console release have been circulating for a while, but Eidos has consistently denied any knowledge of it. Indeed, David Rutter of PC developer Beautiful Game Studios spoke to us less than a month ago and said, "We've got no plans currently to do console versions."
He was clearly watching his words though, because by the sound of Eidos' European MD Jonathan Kemp's statement, BGE must have known about the PS2 and Xbox ports. "Our new technology being developed for Championship Manager 5 has been designed in a way to enable a faithful recreation of the Championship Manager experience on PlayStation 2 and Xbox," Kemp said to mark today's announcement.
Although CM5 has the undoubted boost of the Championship Manager brand behind it, it still remains to be seen whether Beautiful Game Studios can create something that matches up to the finely honed approach tailored by Sports Interactive for over a decade. The battle for Eidos is to convince existing fans to stick with the name and not migrate over to the Football Manager franchise when that launches. We're certainly eager to see how it all pans out.
However the PS2 and Xbox ports arguably stand a much better chance of taking a big chunk of the market - whatever your thoughts on the CM brand's pulling power vs. buyer awareness equation. Its competition on those formats consists of Codemasters' LMA Manager 2005 and EA's Total Club Manager series, which aren't so well established, despite (particularly the former) enjoying chart success of late. Still, rather like the Premiership this coming season, there are a lot of unknown factors. It should be interesting.
For more details on Championship Manager 5 and why BGE reckons it will succeed, be sure to read our recent interview with the developer here.