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Football Manager boss ends silence on Championship Manager split

"Eidos told me that Beautiful Games was making a platform game. I thought our number was up"

Miles Jacobson, the studio director at Sports Interactive, has for the first time spoken publicly about events which led to the Championship Manager team defecting to Sega and establishing its eminent rival, Football Manager.

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Sports Interactive studio director Miles Jacobson

In the nine years since Sports Interactive ceased its partnership with Eidos, Jacobson has not discussed the matter in public, though yesterday at the popular GameHorizon conference in Newcastle he held a public one-on-one discussion with Eidos life president Ian Livingstone.

"During our times with Eidos there were some run-ins, but legally I'm not allowed to talk about this unless I get permission," he told Livingstone.

According to an account of the discussion by an Edge journalist, Livingstone then indicated that Jacobson could discuss the matter.

"I'm sure there are two sides to this story," Jacobson began.

"At the time [before the split] we felt there was a lack of respect for our work from Eidos. There seemed to be an attitude at the time in the industry that anyone could make games."

"Eidos set up Beautiful Game Studios nine months before Championship Manager 4 was due to come out," he said, referencing the studio that would eventually take over duties on Championship Manager.

"Eidos told me that Beautiful Games Studios was making a platform game. I thought our number was up."

Jacobson added that, during the tense developments, he and his studio were also arguing for higher royalty rates on the Championship Manager games.

"Eidos wanted more control. We wanted more control," he said.

Livingstone said that Eidos was "preparing for the future" as the company had grown suspicious that Sports Interactive was looking to leave the company.

The split between Eidos and Sports interactive, which took place in 2003, resulted in the publisher retaining the IP and the studio keeping the base code and game database.

Sports Interactive joined Sega the same year following a meting between Jacobson and the publisher's key executives.

"I went for a curry with the CEO of Sega in Japan and Europe and he made me an offer on a napkin," he said.

"I kept telling them we were not for sale. I told them they would have to double the offer for me to even discuss it."

According to Jacobson, Sega more than doubled its acquisition price the next day.

"I told [fellow studio directors] Paul and Ov as my best mates that they weren't going to get another opportunity like this to secure their families' future," he said.

"And I told them I was sure I could get a clause that would enable us to retain our independence."

"Looking back I wouldn't change what we did," Jacobson concluded.

"A developer can't go through anything bigger than breaking up a brand that took eleven years to build. I can't believe there is anything more stressful for a developer. I collapsed at E3 when the final decision to leave was made. It was partly because I had glandular fever, and partly down to the stress."

Football Manager 2013, the latest edition in the series, is due to be announced in a matter of months.

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