Over the years, as sports fans tried to find a hypothetical, hypothetical solution that a baseball simulation game on Xbox One could provide, someone inevitably wondered why Sony wouldn’t just do MLB The Show for Xbox if there wasn’t one Competitive product over there. “Wouldn’t they sell more and make more money?” Was the logic of the armchair.
Sure, I always thought and answered occasionally. Why doesn’t Chevy make parts for Ford? Wouldn’t they sell more and make more money?
That’s what makes last week’s news so frowning. Exactly what I belittled as idle or uninformed forum argument has actually been fulfilled. Show you what the hell I know!
In summary, Major League Baseball and Sony Interactive Entertainment announced on Monday that this series will also be available on other console platforms in their agreement to continue the MLB The Show license agreement each year. Neither Xbox nor Nintendo were mentioned, but the social media from both companies tweeted the news again (Xbox notes dryly: “No more away games”).
Given that Sony had to be forced to play cross-platform by small and large developers, two years earlier we could see the biggest business history of video games in 2021. I guess it depends on who gave up to get to that point. However, this shows how extremely restrictive an exclusive license agreement was in the end for the league that sold it and not for the publishers, developers – or console owners in this case – who were frozen by it.
Sports college video gamers are now enrolled to hear the 2005 bedtime story about 2K Sports and the Great Rebound Hookup. At that point, Take-Two Interactive was negotiating the exclusive to return to EA Sports and its exclusive pact with the NFL-but-actually-no deal that spawned 2K Sports (actually 2K Games) and the MLB 2K series. Just as Madden captivated NFL NFL 2K5 (actually released by Sega), Take-Two also took EA Sports Ritter, the popular MVP baseball series.
Aside from being a purely third-party design, this deal allowed console manufacturers to develop their own MLB games, and Sony did. Meanwhile, one can best describe that Take-Two’s plans for MLB 2K have more money than reason.
According to news estimates at the time, the MLB Take Two Pact was worth a total of $ 200 million. It would later be held responsible for an annual charge of $ 30 million for 2K Games’ bottom line. Take-Two shuttered the original MLB 2K developer Kush Games and stuck Visual Concepts with the bag according to a nine-month production schedule. MLB 2K9 was a mess and the series, even as the only thing you could buy on an Xbox 360, was never fully restored. MLB 2K13, best described as MLB 2K12, warmed under a heat lamp, was the last game in the series.
The real loser in all of this: Major League Baseball. Sure, it was paid for, but now it had no dance partner on Xbox when Xbox One started. Electronic Arts’ MVP engine was more than a generation old. Maybe Konami (powered by Pro Yakyuu Spirits) had the opportunity to play an MLB game. But nobody wanted to pay for the freight that MLB had expected, or as I heard. In any case, no one was able to complete an Xbox One or PlayStation 4 sports video game from scratch in a year. EA Sports tried that with NBA Live 14 the same year, but at least they had current assets to work with.
MLB suspended the entire life of the Xbox One and served R.B.I.’s Fyre Fest menu. Baseball as a placeholder. It was clear to see who had the leverage of a potential deal to develop a fully functional game on Xbox, and it wasn’t an MLB. And with so little changed in the past five years, I have to wonder what Major League Baseball gave up to get this deal. It makes no sense that Sony is the one who either takes less money or invests more to do this deal. But, as I mentioned earlier, I’m not a rapper.
Now we know what damage an exclusive license can do
And to be clear, it’s about MLB The Show, the franchise that comes on other platforms. Someone has to port it or pay for it to be ported. If Sony San Diego does the porting, I can imagine that they got a good price. Otherwise, it’s easy to believe that Microsoft and Nintendo will cover part of the cost of an approved third party, while Sony San Diego is dedicated to the lead platform.
But here, too, if Microsoft or Nintendo ever valued a baseball simulation game, they could have done it for themselves all the time, just like Sony. Why pay now? I suspect MLB brokered this deal and probably funded it in some way, only to overcome an embarrassing dead end and return to a market it had excluded from.
Now we know what damage an exclusive license can do, not for customers or developers. In 2005, Take-Two stumbled into the club like a drunk and made Major League Baseball feel like the hottest through spending so much. But there is always regret the morning after, and in the case of MLB, that morning lasted 15 years.
Roster File is Polygon’s news and opinion column on the intersection of sports and video games.