The 2017-18 campaign may have entered its final stretch, but in the world of Football Manager, close season is still months away.
Indeed, the 2018 instalment of the extra-addictive, ultra-authentic management sim will be played to death in bedroom dugouts across the world until next season's edition launches at the tail end of the year.
Developer Sports Interactive (SI) recently welcomed a new member to the Football Manager team in the shape of the Nintendo Switch, bringing the streamlined Touch version of the game to the portable console so players can get to grips with it at home and away.
In the wake of FM18's debut on a new platform, Sports Mole caught up with SI head Miles Jacobson to discuss the new edition and final out what the future might hold for this beautiful gaming franchise.
Are you pleased with the way this season's Football Manager instalments have performed and how the new features were received?
"In general, yes. I've learnt by now that it's impossible to please all people all of the time, but the vast majority seem to be enjoying FM18 very much, with circa 50,000 concurrent players every European evening and well over 100,000 people playing it every day, despite it being nearly six months old now."
You recently brought the Touch version to the Nintendo Switch. What is it about the platform that made it a good fit for the game?
"The fact that it can be played on or away from a television is what makes it a great device for us and our games. With previous console releases, the biggest complaint we had was the amount of time that the TV in the living was out of action when the game was being played, whereas we don't have that issue with Switch as you can just whip it out of the cradle and play directly on the sofa."
Is this exactly the same game as the tablet and PC editions?
"Gameplay-wise, yes, but tech-wise and control-wise it's different. A lot of work went into making it the best port from the PC version of Touch as possible, so the graphics are optimised specifically for the Switch.
"There's a new control system to allow you to play with JoyCons as well as the touchscreen, and other optimisations too. We worked closely with Hardlight and their partners to make sure that it got the love and attention to make it a great console experience as well as a great handheld one."
Were there any challenges when it came to porting the game to Switch?
"There are always challenges with anything to do with software development, especially with consoles and smaller devices that may have memory and speed issues due to the way they are configured.
"But having a standard format to deal with, rather than the fragmentation of Android and iOS devices, has many benefits too. The team enjoyed working on it and with Nintendo. This was the first time we've released a game on one of their devices, which is a bit of a dream come true for me."
If the game proves a huge hit on Switch, what are the chances of more Football Manager on consoles in the future?
"The future is a very long time..."
The game has a staggering amount of playable teams, but there's always room for more. Africa has very few domestic leagues, for instance, and then there's the women's game. Can fans expect the number to grow in future instalments?
"We have no plans to add more leagues currently. People can make their own leagues using the competition editor for the PC/Mac release, and many do - we do watch their popularity, but there is nothing there standing out at the moment as a 'must-add' league.
"As I've stated many times previously, it's unfortunately not commercially viable to add women's teams at the moment. But, again, the future is a very long time, so I hope it will happen someday."
Have you heard any good Football Manager anecdotes from figures within football or the FM community about this season's instalment?
"Yes - lots from footballers, but as we don't have commercial deals with them, we can't talk about them. The community are telling stories every day on social media and our own forums. It's always great to read quite how deeply people get into our work."
Finally, how far along are you with Football Manager 2019?
"I was still tweaking the feature set until a few weeks ago, but development work has been ongoing for some time. We often have a few things that are being worked on across multiple cycles."
Football Manager 2018 is available for PC and Mac now and FM18 Touch is out on PC, iOS, Android and Nintendo Switch.