F1 Manager is Not Paying Off for Frontier

F1 Manager Sales “Very Underwhelming Compared to Management's Expectations"
Credit: Frontier Developments

F1 Manager Sales “Very Underwhelming Compared to Management's Expectations"
Credit: Frontier Developments

F1 fans rejoiced when Frontier Developments acquired the rights to produce the F1 Manager series in a multi-year deal. But while it has its fans, management games are a niche genre and acquiring an expensive license like F1 without guaranteed sales is risky.

Sadly, Frontier's gamble isn't paying off. According to an eye-opening report on how the company handled staff layoffs, F1 Manager has been a massive flop.

F1 Manager 2023 was an “insult to the very small player base”

Frontier’s first F1 Manager title was a strong and promising start for the series, with F1 Manager 2022 selling over 800,000 units in the first nine months according to Frontier’s June 2023 trade update. However, console support was dropped after one week as Frontier swiftly moved onto F1 Manager 2023.

Frontier Developments
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While F1 Manager 2023 introduced several welcome features and quality-of-life improvements, it failed to push the series forward. Video Games on Sports Illustrated spoke with former and current Frontier employees, who revealed that the series' sales have been “very underwhelming compared to management's expectations.”

Sources have blamed unrealistic expectations from Frontier’s management. Exact sales figures haven’t been released, but a source revealed that F1 Manager 2023 sold “less than one third of what they thought they would earn.”

“This year's version is a clone of last year's perforce repository with a few extras added, sold at full price. It's an insult to the very small player base,” one source said.

“Anyone could have told you that F1 Manager 2023 wasn’t going to sell as well as F1 Manager 2022”

Released last July, F1 Manager 2023 launched just 11 months after the previous game. This was because Frontier’s management wanted to release the game alongside the British Grand Prix to increase sales. “Anyone could have told you that F1 Manager 2023 wasn’t going to sell as well as F1 Manager 2022,” one source said.

F1 Manager 2023
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Credit: Frontier Developments

Workers were reportedly blamed by management for missing the sales target, leading to Frontier laying off staff.

In response to the report, Frontier admitted that “sales of our F1 Manager franchise have, to date, been lower than we had expected,” adding that F1 Manager 2023 joining Game Pass has brought in “additional revenue for the franchise.”

Why is F1 Manager flopping?

Alongside lofty company expectations, the astronomical costs of securing the F1 license were also a major factor in F1 Manager's failure to meet sales targets. Gambling on such an expensive license for a niche genre like management games was always going to be risky. Unfortunately, it isn't paying off for Frontier.

“That’s actually been the biggest issue seen across multiple titles: uncontrollable spending, poor decisions (such as what licenses we pay for, games we make, and what we fund), and then trying to offset it with unrealistic sales expectations, which anyone internally could tell you even early on that we’d never be able to hit,” a source said.

F1 Manager 2023 crash
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Another added that Frontier “signed an expensive multi-year deal with F1, so we have to make the games.” Frontier has the rights to develop four F1 Manager games for the 2022-2025 seasons.

However, the multi-year deal is “subject to the achievement of certain financial performance thresholds.” Sadly, this means F1 Manager 2024 could be the final lap if sales fall below expectations.

F1 Manager 2024 is set to introduce a long-requested Create a Team mode, effectively Frontier’s answer to Codemasters’ My Team mode. Let's hope this is enough to increase sales, or it could be the end for F1 Manager. If we do get an F1 Manager 2025, it seems unlikely that the contract will be renewed at this rate.

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