Does Football Manager have an injury problem?
Sports Interactive boss argues the toss.
Every year like clockwork a new Football Manager game comes out, and every year a recurring criticism seems to appear: there are too many injuries.
Here's a look at a handful of Steam user reviews of Football Manager 2016.
This year the frustration with injuries in FM16 prompted Miles Jacobson, manager of the game's developer Sports Interactive, to take to Twitter in defence. His counter-argument is quite clear: this is a simulation and there are even more injuries in real-life football. "Think there are too many injuries in FM16?" he asked followers. "It has roughly 70 per cent of those in real-life." He then linked through to a Telegraph article and live injury-tracking website as proof.
Did you know, for instance, that Liverpool and Newcastle currently have the most players injured in the English Premier League with 10 apiece? United have eight, Arsenal seven and Chelsea four, although one of them is star player Eden Hazard. Compare those injury counts with one of the FM16 customer review complaints - there's one about one player having eight first-team injuries - and, well, it's unlucky but not unrealistic.
Again, we return to Steam user reviews.
But should Football Manager be realistic if it means many people aren't enjoying it, a simulation but also a game, a piece of entertainment? Real-life football managers have no choice, it's part of the stress and strain of their very well paid full-time jobs - but for us hobbyists there is a choice, isn't there? Could Sports Interactive tweak the dials? One Steam customer sensibly suggested that Football Manager include a realism slider with which each player can set their own challenge.
It's worth pointing out that while injury complaints are common, there are many more about bugs, particularly in the match engine. Bugs were an unfortunate part of Football Manager 2015's release, something I spoke to Miles Jacobson about earlier in the year (we even talked about injuries then), and he said SI changes its production practices each year to try and make things better. But it still puts out another game every year - perhaps simply that strain is too much? One of the reasons Football Manager 2016 didn't bowl us over was because it felt iterative and "short on big new ideas".
Nevertheless, Football Manager is still the best at what it does, and there are plenty of customers on Steam thoroughly satisfied by it. There are also two other ways to get a Football Manager experience this year - a less intense FM experience - in FM Mobile (out now for phones and tablets for £7), and Football Manager Touch (formerly Classic - coming soon to PC and Mac and powerful tablets for £15).