There will be no prerelease demos for MLB 2K13 and MLB 13: The Show. In the case of one, a lack of improvements and constrained development cycle would be to blame, while the other can rest on a stronger reputation negating the need in some eyes to release a demo.
SCEA has a history of choosing to bypass prerelease demos and they seem to evaluate the varying circumstances year-to-year. MLB 10 and 12 went without a demo while MLB 09 (month early) and MLB 11 (two weeks early) provided one. MLB 13 then will make it three out of the last four years that SCEA has not put out a prerelease demo. For 2K Sports this is a departure from the norm. The last four MLB 2K games have featured a demo available to try a week prior to the game releasing. Yes…that even includes the disastrous MLB 2K9.
Perhaps more concerning is that not only will there be no opportunity to try the games before they release from the comfort of home, neither have produced any gameplay videos for consumers to evaluate. At least in the case of MLB 13: The Show the features and improvements have been well defined and again consumer confidence is high as a sense of trust has been established. MLB 2K13 is simply hoping to capture consumers who don’t realize almost nothing has been done besides a roster update and presumably the shift of the Astros to the AL. 2K won’t even discuss or show the game let alone let anyone try it.
In the case of MLB 13: The Show the series has an entrenched fan base and SCEA may see no potential for growth out of a demo. The most significant area of concern for The Show remains online play and any possible advancement there isn’t going to be on display in a demo. Veterans of the series likely have their purchase decision already made and baseball has limited reach to a more casual base that might be swayed by a game demo. 2K’s motivation is more easily defined…the more people know about MLB 2K13 the more they’ll realize the work done (or lack thereof) does not justify the $60 price tag.
One does have to wonder how baseball gets away with limited media every year. Every other major sport allows consumers a better opportunity to evaluate the improvements and additions that have been made through videos, blogs, demos, and various other avenues. Baseball does seem to be naturally hampered by gameplay that can’t change dramatically from iteration to iteration. The adjustments tend to be far more subtle – unless there is a change to fundamentals like the controls – making a slice of gameplay for a demo potentially not the best representation of the product. The concern could be that without the immediate sense of differentiation from the prior year consumers might be dissuaded from purchasing.