It came as no surprise that Take Two would pass on renewing a third party exclusive agreement with Major League Baseball thus signalling an end to the 2K franchise. MLB 2K will end up being the only officially licensed “sim” game to have appeared on the Xbox 360. It was a predictable conclusion but one that leaves plenty of uncertainty going forward and has damaged the potential of another series appearing in its place.
In the time leading up to the expiration of the deal Take Two made several statements regarding their dissatisfaction towards that contract in particular and having to deal with licensed products as a whole. The leadership at the company had inherited the third party MLB exclusive which lost them over $30 million every year. It was a deal that even EA Sports passed on back in 2005 as they recognized the terms as being outrageous before Take Two accepted it.
Sales never justified the costs involved and the poor quality of the series led the user base to degrade further over the years. Over on the PS3 it was a competitor that emerged with all the credibility for baseball fans while those on the 360 just decided to abandon baseball altogether rather than buy a sub-par product. Eventually only gimmicks like the $1 Million Perfect Game Contest were able to lead to any consumer or major media recognition.
Now there will be no MLB game on the Xbox 360 in 2013 and the absence could stretch on for longer. MLB has expectations that were ballooned by that earlier deal that no company – even EA Sports who has longed to resurrect MVP Baseball – would be able to consider. Until MLB comes down on their demands no third party is going to enter the picture which will include a huge uphill battle to face even with the license in hand.
On the PS3/PS4 The Show reigns supreme and stealing away consumers will be difficult even if it’s MVP returning to the market. On the 360/next Xbox there will be an eroded and skeptical user base that may not be situated for steady growth. The best opportunity for anyone, whether that be EA or a surprise entrant, looks to be with the launch of the next generation of consoles. Even there though the prospects aren’t especially encouraging.
The contraction of sports gaming continues and MLB is just the latest victim. Whether two premiere licensed titles can co-exist when baseball has never been an especially strong seller is a question that is going to be asked by companies who may consider getting involved. The path that the MLB 2K series took will only create pessimism on that front but eventually, when more favorable terms are agreed with a third party or Microsoft decides to make their own first party offering, someone will take that venture on.
Year in Review
Much more still to come!
•#5 of 2012: UFC Undisputed 3
•#6 of 2012: Forza Horizon
•#7 of 2012: MLB 12: The Show
•#8 of 2012: NHL 13
•#9 of 2012: NCAA Football 13
•#10 of 2012: NFL Blitz
•Vote for the 2012 Community Choice Awards
•Revisiting the Top Stories of 2012: The Death of the MLB 2K Series
•Revisiting the Top Stories of 2012: Turning to Entertainers for Marketing Exposure
•Revisiting the Top Stories of 2012: Lawsuits Faced by Electronic Arts
•Revisiting the Top Stories of 2012: Disingenuous Marketing and Unfulfilled Features
•Revisiting the Top Stories of 2012: The Disastrous Road Towards NBA Live 13