Chinese Fans Are Review Bombing The Hell Out Of Football Manager

Chinese Fans Are Review Bombing The Hell Out Of Football Manager
Image: Steam

The Football Manager series has always been one of the most popular games on Steam. But if you checked out the reviews for Football Manager 2017, you’d assume something was very, very wrong.

The game currently has a 30% user rating on Steam out of 1,110 reviews. That’s pretty bad by normal standards, but it’s also well out of whack with how popular the series is usually. You’ll never see Football Manager knocking off, say, Dota or Counter-Strike, but it always has tens of thousands of regular players. Even FM2017, which is still in beta until later this week, has nearly 10,000 concurrent players at the time of writing and more than 100,000 estimated digital sales.

So, what’s the issue?

Late last week, Sports Interactive announced community translations would be available as part of FM17’s integration with the Steam Workshop.

“As much as we’d love to translate the game into every language, it’s often not possible for us to do so,” the company announced. And it’s not like SI doesn’t localise Football Manager into other languages; FM17 alone supports 16 languages out of the box, with font support for Latin and Cyrillic character sets, Japanese, Hebrew and Arabic.

And while there’s also support for traditional and simplified Chinese characters, the game hasn’t been translated into Chinese.

Cue outrage.

Chinese Fans Are Review Bombing The Hell Out Of Football ManagerImage: Steam
Chinese Fans Are Review Bombing The Hell Out Of Football ManagerImage: Steam

The anger is stemming from a comment Miles Jacobson, the studio director of Sports Interactive and an OBE recipient in 2011, made five years ago:

It’s worth noting that the FM series has never been translated into Chinese, likely for that very reason. Localisation is a costly and time-intensive process, even for the largest of studios. It’s a little easier for FM than, say, a fully voice-acted blockbuster like Call of Duty, but you can’t blame the developers for investing where it makes sense.

But fans were convinced that if they purchased enough copies, SI would translate the game into simplified or traditional Chinese. A lot changes in five years, though, something Jacobson explained on Twitter not long after FM2017’s Steam rating began to tank.

Jacobson even tweeted that he and his family had received a death threat, even though SEGA has since come out and announced that they “have begun work on translating Football Manager 2017 and Football Manager Touch 2017 into Traditional Chinese”.

“SEGA are also considering simplified Chinese options. At this moment, there is no solid release date for the localised versions but we would like to reassure our Chinese fan base that a version is coming,” the announcement read.

The move hasn’t been met with universal acclaim yet though, with fans saying SEGA should translate the game into simplified Chinese first, rather than traditional Chinese. Some cheekily suggested that it’ll only result in reviews complaining about traditional Chinese, although the overall response has been thankful.

Still, it’s a rough spot for SI to be in. Despite suggestions otherwise, there was never any promise or ironclad guarantee was ever given out by Jacobson or SI. He was simply making the point that the cost-benefit didn’t justify a translation at that time, and it still doesn’t:

But SEGA have stepped in to fund a traditional Chinese localisation nonetheless. It’s a shame SI didn’t get to announce the move themselves; they might have at least gotten a bit more well-deserved goodwill, or at least a respite from the backlash. Nonetheless, it shows that in game development, sometimes you just can’t win.


  • The traditional Chinese character set is primarily used in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau. That’s a far smaller population than mainland China, where simplified Chinese is used.

    For Sega to target traditional first, the piracy rate must be huge in mainland China.

  • Good to see Sega come to the party, I’m loathe for people to miss out on a game because their language isn’t supported. That being said, wrong way to go about it.

  • Just to clarify, what’s OBE mean here in this context?

    Would be interesting to see how this translates into increased sales.

    • Order of the British Empire. As in, Queen’s Honours. For “services to the gaming industry”. Also for services to my football club – SI/Football Manager have been shirt sponsors for 14 years.

  • I am getting sick of the entitlement over things like this. I seem to see more incidents like this and a lot of the time it’s from China. It smacks of arrogance to me.

  • Geez, this might explain where I get my overly dramatic reactions from. Darn unpredictable Chinese heritage running through my veins XD

  • perhaps they should do the transalations the same as the chinese translate to engrish

    “player pass ball opponent goal score!!!!!!!!!!!!”

  • The reaction was certainly ridiculous, but moving the goalposts and adding conditions to ensure that you don’t have to keep what seemed a fairly straightforward deal isn’t going to please anybody.

    • If I’m reading those tweets correctly, in 2011 the developer said “we’d need to see 20000 more sales of the (each) game to make it cost effective”.

      In 2016, they noted that their latest game had not sold 20000 more copies in China than the 2011 version, so costs for translation could not be met. Additionally, there is more text to translate in the current game, so even if it had sold 20000 more copies, that still wouldn’t cover the current costs, as opposed to the cost 5 years ago.

      Professional commercial translation services are not cheap, I was surprised at how much it actually costs ($500 AUS for ~20 short lines of text in 5 languages for example).

      The price of stuff goes up, I don’t see it as “moving the goalposts”, and besides that point, it sounds like sales of the game in China have not “met the agreement” anyway.

    • When did they move the Goal Posts? Although the way they said it may be confusing it always translates to if there is value in a Chinese Translation we’ll do it. At time of Promise the numbers where X, now days the numbers are Y.

  • Well what was said by Jacobson kind of makes sense and justifiable. The question really is whether if they did receive enough money from each of the languages they did translate to cover the cost. That was left unsaid.

    I can understand why some people dont bother releasing games in china, he isnt alone…

    And the thing about chinese online bs is completely warranted. They are extremely arrogant, ignorant and vulgar. If anything people give them too much credit and are too accepting towards those kinds of behavior.

    On the other hand, its not like this kind of behavior is non-existent in western countries and they also have a small argument. But unfortunately the monetary argument is not in their favor and kind is the main point.

    they see themselves as above alot of those other countries so to see a game still not translated to chinese offends some people right or wrong.

  • It’s funny watching people take the business side when it doesn’t involve them

    But if this was the latest fad game out of Japan, an exclusive of a popular franchise or a number of other similar situations we get here every other day…..woah boy.

  • Kotaku, can you explain to me how CoD localization is easier than Football Manager? Because this game have over 4+ millions words. 🙂

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