Football Manager comes out every year and it's great and it sells well. It's been the de facto 'pretend to be a football manager' game for years. Bit complicated, eats up the hours, but it's loved. Except last year Football Manager 2015 seemed to stumble.
"A game whose main improvements are all disappointments", we wrote in our review. Lack of polish, lack of magic, six out of 10 - back when we did scores. But Football Manager doesn't get scores like that! It looked like the series' most significant misstep in years.
"FM15?" responded Miles Jacobson, studio director at game developer Sports Interactive, when I asked him about it. "It's sold better than FM14."
Sega has released its financial results for the year ending 31st March 2014, and so we get some firm figures for its video game slate.
Apparently slaughtering FIFA Manager wasn't enough for Football Manager as it now preys on the living in Football Manager of the Dead, the latest update to Typing of the Dead: Overkill.
It's tempting to imagine Sports Interactive's Miles Jacobson experiencing some kind of Damascene moment while visiting Watford's London Colney training ground this summer (for an epiphany to occur at Vicarage Road would perhaps be too neat). An inter-squad kickaround, perhaps, interrupted by a bellow of "get it in the mixer" in Gianfranco Zola's distinctive, Sardinian tenor. Or a blank look from Troy Deeney when asked whether he ever felt like he'd have more stamina towards the end of games if he closed people down 10 per cent less.
The truth, I'm sure, is a little more prosaic. Either way, after 20 years of worship at the altar of increasing complexity, something has triggered what feels like a pretty dramatic turning point for this series - for the first time, this year Football Manager has simplified itself.
Now, a game like Football Manager can be a curious one to review. 95 per cent of it stays the same each year, and many are happy to purchase a new version simply for the updated rosters, the small improvements and the odd shiny new feature. Part of the game's appeal is the continuity that exists between iterations - unlike FIFA or PES, there's no re-learning needed for each release.
Football Manager 2014 will launch on Thursday, 31st October, Sports Interactive has announced.
Specifically, Thursday, 31st October at 00.01am GMT. That's on PC, Mac and Linux.
If you pre-order from one of the participating retailers you can gain access to a beta version around two weeks before the full game goes on sale. You can carry on the career you start in the beta when you buy the full version. A demo will be released a week before the full game.
If carrying the weight of a beloved gaming franchise on his shoulders is a burden, Miles Jacobson certainly doesn't show it - in fact, if anything, listening back to my visit to Sports Interactive's head office, it was the interviewer that seemed under pressure.
This year's new Football Manager game will be on Linux for the very first time - goal! That's as well as Windows and Mac, and all three versions are due out before Christmas.
Football Manager 2013 is the best-selling game in the series, developer Sports Interactive has announced.