Football Manager firm Sports Interactive hires Disney vet Carroll as first COO

Football Manager firm Sports Interactive hires Disney vet Carroll as first COO

Football Manager firm Sports Interactive hires Disney vet Carroll as first COO

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Sega Publishing Europe Ltd
Sports Interactive

February 26th, 2018 – 11:25am
By Alex Calvin, Editor – PC Games Insider

The London-based studio behind the blockbuster Football Manager franchise has picked up its first chief operating office as the developer restructures.

The big news – as revealed by GamesIndustry.biz – here is that Disney alum Matt Carroll (pictured) is joining as the studio’s first ever COO – something that the studio sees as necessary given how much the Football Manager outfit has grown since its purchase by Sega back in 2006.

Carroll joined Disney in 2001 as the country director for the firm’s games output for the UK, Ireland, South Africa and New Zealand, and stayed with the House of Mouse until last month.

Prior to that he held roles at Hasbro and Microprose.

Meanwhile, 19-year Sports Interactive veteran Marc Duffy has been promoted to production director. Other job changes are forthcoming as the studio prepares to move to new digs in April.

“A COO is something that [parent company] Sega has been telling me that I’ve needed for a few years now,” says studio boss Miles Jacobson.

“I hadn’t agreed with them before. But we’ve grown. When we were bought by Sega there were 34 of us. Now there are 115.

“I have kind-of still been running the studio as if it is 30 people. And what has become clear over the last couple of years, that with four projects on the go, with a much larger team, with me having other responsibilities as part of Sega’s senior management team – and also things that I do away from the studio regarding football and charity – I had become a bottleneck. If someone wants a quick decision, I have a three-day turnaround.

“Another reason is that things have changed a lot in 20 years. We’re not a bedroom studio anymore. We are not a bedroom industry anymore. There were certain things that needed to be professionalised.

“So I wanted to look for someone who could not only do the day-to-day stuff better than I can do – the budgets, the approval processes, and the reporting upwards. But also someone who was going to make sure that our career development path was world class. Things like job titles I have always ignored, but they are a lot more important to people now than they were ten years ago. I understand the reasons why they’re important in this world of Linkedin and professionalised industry, but I didn’t feel I was the right person to be sorting that out. I would rather be concentrating on the creative side of my role.

“It was really important to retain to our status as a great studio, to be able to cope with the amount of projects that we were looking to do, and to have the possibility of being better. There were things that we needed to improve that I don’t think I was the right person to handle. So I started looking for someone that could take that over.”

“It’s not just about the COO, either. We have had a wider restructure within the studio. Marc Duffy has been promoted to production director… we think that will be his job title. We will also have more people with associate producer roles within the studio. So we have used this as an opportunity, and the office move, for a bit of a soft reboot. Which hopefully the only thing that will be noticed from the outside is better games. But on the inside, it is going to make a massive difference to the day-to-day career at Sports Interactive.”

Jacobson also revealed how well Football Manager 2018 was doing, with between 50,000 and 60,000 concurrent players each evening and “around 160,000 to 200,000” unique players each day.

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