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Sports Interactive and Eidos part ways

Publisher keeps name, developer keeps game.

Championship Manager publisher Eidos and developer Sports Interactive will collaborate on a Season 03/04 update for the final quarter of this year before going their separate ways, it was revealed this morning. "If this were the music industry, we would be talking about a classic case of 'musical differences'," said SI Managing Director Miles Jacobson.

After the release of the Season 03/04 update, each company will retain its respective intellectual properties. Eidos will retain the "Championship Manager" name and continue to develop the game internally - with an update release planned for the 2004/2005 season, while Sports Interactive will retain ownership of the player database and source code and will announce plans for future football projects in the first quarter of 2004.

"We've enjoyed an excellent relationship with Eidos for many years now and will work closely with them to make sure that our final collaboration is the best version of CM ever," Jacobson continued. "After that, I expect that we will become the friendliest of rivals."

With the latest title in the series, Championship Manager 4, still ringing in retailers' ears - and the UK's fastest-selling PC game ever - it seems likely that Sports Interactive's next project will be one to watch. While Eidos has the name, they will be hard pressed to deliver anything to CM's standard from the ground up in the timeframe for their Season 04/05 release.

The player database, in particular, will become a major obstacle, because Sports Interactive's is renowned for its accuracy and detail. When quizzed by EG this morning about Eidos potentially licensing the database back for their own CM project, Jacobson said "they could do if we were prepared to license it to them," but "we haven't been approached by them for that to happen."

"The friendliest of rivals" they may become, but Sports Interactive will surely come off the best, if only because the Sonys and Microsofts of this world - manifestly keen to exploit the genre - will come running to the UK-based developer with big old money hats before they go anywhere near the game-less Eidos.