ChampMan had "no vision, no direction"
Dev studio boss says that will change.
Roy Meredith, general manager at Eidos developer Beautiful Game Studios, has admitted that the Championship Manager franchise has suffered due to poor quality since original team Sports Interactive left the series.
But he's also determined that the franchise can regain its past glories over time, and become a serious threat to Sports Interactive's rival Football Manager.
"In terms of the quality of the franchise, the quality of the products we've put out - yeah, I know, it's pretty poor," conceded Meredith, in an exclusive interview with GamesIndustry.biz.
"So that's why I was brought in last year and told to do this, because on one hand you have a very valuable brand, but at some point it's going to be worth zero because of the quality of the product."
Meredith joined Eidos from Electronic Arts last November, and has been charged with reinvigorating the Championship Manager brand, which according to Meredith has been following its competitor and lost its own direction.
"I think for too long we've been a me-too product," he said. "There's no question that Football Manager is a really strong, very good game, that knows its place in the market.
"For too long we've not had a vision that explains what Championship Manager is. No vision, no direction - where are we within that genre? We want to create a strong alternative, a competitor to Football Manager - irrespective of what they do, we need to be clear on what ChampMan is all about, and identify where we need to be."
For Eidos, the Championship Manager brand is still strong, and Meredith is confident it can pull back consumers who may have been disillusioned with recent releases.
"We did some research this year, and looked at football fans in general, and Championship Manager is probably one of the strongest brand names there in gaming."
"So at the end of 2008 we're in a strong place in terms of name, but people aren't buying into our franchise," he said.
"What we need to do is give consumers a reason to believe the franchise again. They know the fundamentals, the basics of the game, and they need to know the quality of the game is strong, because for too long it hasn't been."
Both franchises can exist in the market, insisted Meredith, each pushing the other to innovate and create a better game.
"With two strong games in the marketplace it's good for the consumer, it's good for the genre and actually it's good for FM as well, because it will keep them pushing forward to iterate as well."