The Football Manager series has been trashed on Steam by a wave of angry Chinese fans who wanted an official translation of the game. They also harassed Sports Interactive boss Miles Jacobson on Twitter, and he said he'd received a death threat to his family.
There are more than a thousand pre-release Football Manager 2017 reviews on Steam (the game is due 4th November), but only 30 per cent of them are positive. Overall, FM17 is rated Mostly Negative, which is unprecedented in the game's consistently strong history.
Even last year's Football Manager 2016 has suffered, as a string of recent Mostly Negative reviews pulled the overall reception down to Mixed.
Chinese players had expected their language to be the 17th supported by the game - not be told they'd have to do it themselves. They believed that because of a tweet Miles Jacobson made way back in 2011. "To do a Chinese translation, we'd need 20k of the people currently pirating to buy the game," he wrote. "And that's not going to happen."
@Talentconan to do a Chinese translation, we'd need 20k of the people currently pirating to buy the game. And that's not going to happen.— Miles Jacobson 💙 (@milesSI) October 25, 2011
But the Chinese community believed those sales had happened, and pointed to publicly available SteamSpy data as evidence. There, China ranks fifth by region for FM16 players/owners - higher than some of the countries whose speaking languages the game does support. So why was China being left out? Or, as the question soon became, why did Miles Jacobson lie?
His defence on Twitter was, simply, that he didn't. "I made a commitment in 2011, which would have been for that year's version of the game. It didn't happen then. It also still hasn't happened. We did not sell 20k more copies of FM16 in China than FM12. So at no point have I lied or broken a promise."
Indeed he said he never promised or guaranteed anything, and reminded people that SteamSpy ignores all boxed, physical sales of a game. "I know the exact authentication figures in China," he said. "SteamSpy figures are incorrect by up to 60 per cent."
Chinese language support is also no easy task. Jacobson said there were around 4 million words to translate including the database. "Largest amount of text in any game!" he said.
But his explanations seemed to do little to curb the review-bombing, and for better or worse, that behaviour worked.
In a turn of events, publisher Sega waded in to announce Chinese language support for Football Manager 2017 after all.
It's Traditional Chinese, which isn't exactly what the community wanted - simplified Chinese is apparently preferable - but it's a hell of a lot better than nothing. The question now is whether it sets a precedent for people brute-forcing their wants and needs in a similar way in the future? And also, how to clear up issue of the negative FM16 and FM17 review scores?
I contacted Miles Jacobson who deferred me to Sega. I'm waiting to hear back from Sega about an interview but I think it's unlikely to happen.
Currently playing Football Manager 2017? Read our best Wonderkids in Football Manager 2017 guide for a ranking of the best potential players.
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