Football Manager 2012 will require a one time online activation via Steam, Sports Interactive has confirmed. Once activated no further online authentication will be required.
Sports Interactive took to the game's forums to spread the official word: "Each year we give you an update on the status of copy protection and activation of Football Manager and the decisions taken as we know it's a hot topic for many of you, although for many others it's not really an issue at all.
"As you may remember, last year we decided against any activation as we couldn't find a solution that we thought struck a balance on combating piracy and not penalising the genuine consumer. We did make our position on anti-piracy pretty clear though, we see it as a big problem for our game and we said we'd continue to look for a solution that stopped, or made it very difficult to pirate the game and play it for free.
"This year we have found what we believe is an acceptable solution. Any version of Football Manager 2012 bought on disc will have to be activated through the Steam network, so therefore purchasers will have to have an internet connection for initial activation. This is a one-time only activation which requires you to sign up for a Steam account (which is free) and to install the Steam client and once it has been done the game can be played offline by turning on Steam's Offline mode. With those two simple steps done there are no more hoops to jump through or steps to take."
The forum post also identified that the majority of the people reading the forum are genuine consumers, but insisted the extra copy protection will be beneficial.
"We hope that, as a fan of the game, you feel that having to do a one-time activation is worth it to try to prevent others playing the game for free and stealing what you purchase with no punishment, and with no contribution toward the future of Football Manager and it's development. Make no mistake, if a quarter of the people that usually pirate the game switch to purchasing Football Manager 2012, the sales of the game worldwide would more than double. This would lead to increased development budgets and more benefits for all of you who do buy the game."
The post concluded: "We hope you understand and support the decision. It's by no means taken lightly, although I hope for the vast majority of you it's nowhere near as big an issue as we treat it as being."
Football Manager 2012 will be released for PC and Mac on October 21.