Football Manager 2006 for the Xbox 360 will operate over Xbox Live - supporting up to 16 players at a time - let you play online with teams from your single-player games, will encourage raucous voice-chat and will eventually be supplemented by downloadable content from the Xbox live Marketplace.
Developer Sports Interactive's managing director Miles Jacobsen has lifted the beans on all online aspects of the hotly anticipated next-gen fantasy football game in an interview with www.oxm.co.uk. It appears that Football Manager 2006, having developed a large and devoted single-player following, is set to take the online community by storm.
Jacobsen explained that when online, you can do everything which is possible in the single-player game except buying and selling players. In terms of game modes, it will be up to players to set the precise mix of friends, strangers and AI bots you play against, and Xbox Live cup and league competitions are supported. Tournaments can be completed in one sitting or arranged at pre-determined times - thus a knockout tournament with a limited number of teams could last for a short time, whereas a full-blown 16-team league competition could be played out over a matter of weeks.
Sports Interactive, which has always enjoyed a close relationship with its customer base, plans to host its own leagues and cups - Jacobsen said: "We can't wait to virtually meet some of the people who are playing our game". Online players will be able to export a team from any point in a single-player game to be their chosen online side, allowing them to play with teams honed over seasons of competition.
Jacobsen explained the attractiveness of this approach: "For me it's a real thrill to think that I can take control of my beloved Watford and win tournaments with them - for a change".
Another feature which should seriously enhance Xbox Live FM2006 competitions is voice-chat, allowing players to indulge in Mourinho-style mind-games and to cheer on their virtual squads.
Jacobsen also said that Sports Interactive is "in negotiations at the moment with a few people about downloadable content... We have a bunch of 'theme' packs ready but I can't reveal more than that." Sounds intriguing - and we shouldn't have too long to wait, as Football Manager 2006 is slated for a spring release on Xbox 360.