Football Manager is one of the most popular sporting game series in history but its 2017 edition is having a tough time of late with regards to gaming translation. The teams at Sports Interactive and Sega are finding out the hard way what happens when you shun major audiences in the modern gaming market.
After a flood of negative reviews from Chinese gamers, and some disgruntled fans from elsewhere too the game’s review score on Steam languished at an ugly 30% from more than 1,000 reviews – before the game had even been released. So what exactly went wrong here?
Chinese fans insulted, angry over ‘broken promise’
The issue all comes down to the language choices behind Sports Interactive’s game localisation efforts. As the publisher put it in a statement before the game’s release: “As much as we’d love to translate the game into every language, it’s often not possible for us to do so.”
Sadly, Chinese appears to be on the list of ‘not-possibles’ for Sport Interactive – and this time it didn’t go down too well with fans. “I asked lots of buddies in China to figure out why this game have such a bad review in China, It’s not because this game lack of our language it is because SI’s manager Miles Jacobson is a fraud and a racist person,” said jerry123499 via Steam review.
This isn’t a new problem for Football Manager fans in China. They were initially angered by Miles Jacobson’s comments in 2011 when he was asked why the game doesn’t support Chinese Mandarin.
@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
This had a number of ramifications. First, a number of fans took this as a kind of pledge that Football Manager would support Chinese languages if the 20k sales target was reached. However, worse than that, Jacobson’s comments about the Chinese market over various tweets upset a lot of fans – and not only in China – who accuse him of insulting the country’s people.
Fast-forward to 2016 and the negative reviews concerning gaming translation were pouring in for FM17 while it was still in beta testing:
Football Manager 2017 the turning point
So discontent towards Jacobson from Chinese fans has been growing for some time now. However, this year things reached new levels. What started as a culturally insensitive comment spiralled into an online backlash until Sega announced it would in fact release a patch for Football Manager 2017 to provide Chinese localisation.
Unfortunately, much of the damage had already been done by this stage. Jacobson failed to acknowledge the legal and censorship issues that make buying FM games in China difficult for fans. Instead, he chose to criticise Chinese gamers and maintained a pretty conflictive tone throughout the episode.
The end result has been Chinese translation making its way to Football Manager 2017 – but not before some unfortunate PR for Sports Interactive and Sega. Jacobson also claims he has received death threats against him and his family towards the end of the saga.
What’s the big lesson here?
Well, first of all, don’t bring the integrity of a major fanbase into question – something should probably go without saying. The other big lesson is some people really shouldn’t use Twitter – or social media at all for that fact. Especially when you’re an OBE and director of an industry leading game development studio.
Of all the nations to upset, they chose to ignore China’s localisation needs – only the home of the most widely spoken (native) language on Earth. More to the point, it’s also the largest gaming market in the world – a fine combination when deciding not to localise your game for them.
It would have been just as easy to reach out to fans in China and try to work with them on the censorship and piracy problems taking place there – rather than give them even less reason to pay up for the fully licensed game.
- Posted by Tom Robinson
- On 30th November 2016
- 0 Comments