Analyzing the MLB game sales

Posted March 30th, 2008 at 7:14 pm


After a couple weeks of sales it seems like a good opportunity to look at how the two MLB games have fared and what it could mean for the future. With the EA purchase of Take Two still looming largely ahead that could certainly change perceptions going into next year. However we’ll just look at it from the current standpoint of 2K vs SCEA.

MLB 2K8 has certainly had a rough time of it heading all the way back to the lack of prerelease videos and demo. Following release it has been plagued by complaints around the framerate, terrible online experience, and several other issues. Patches are still being waited on and won’t address all the problems. Reviews have generally been mediocre to poor and the online community turned against it almost immediately thanks to those issues and the feeling of being mislead.

MLB 08: The Show on the other hand has received critical acclaim and been received by the community as one of the best baseball titles to date. While it also has shown itself to have poor online performance that has somewhat been overshadowed by how well the rest of the game shapes up. Road to the Show makes it practically two games in one and they have already started on their weekly roster updates which is just one demonstration of the effort they put into the game.

So lets look at the sales vs last year and see if there is a trend. When it comes to The Show the PS3 version was released in May last year so that comparison will not be as pertinent. The numbers reflect the first three weeks of sales via VGChartz. While not official numbers they have been shown to be accurate enough at the very least to reflect trends.

MLB 2K8 (360) 207,292 -31,247
MLB 2K8 (PS3) 57,525 +11,275
MLB 08: The Show 144,153 +37,822

Considering the increase in 360 user base over a full year (where 2K8 is the only baseball game available) 2K8 has sold 13% less than 2K7 and that is obviously very alarming. It seems that the negative response to 2K7 combined with practically hiding the game prerelease has really showed itself. That is how word of mouth and being unsatisfied with quality affects sales. Not so much in the current year but in the ones that follow. With the atmosphere around 2K8 it’s easy to imagine that a potential 2K9 could end up in even more dire straits.

If you look at games like NCAA Football and Madden and instead of comparing the overall sales (due to console generation shift) consider that they both increased in new generation sales from 07 to 08 (22% and 32% respectively). This is pretty much the case with all major yearly sports titles until you get to NHL 2K8 and hockey just isn’t a big seller to begin with. Here though with MLB 2K8, such a critical title with the costly license, 2K is actually losing ground despite this generation’s growth.

On the PS3 it is no surprise that The Show wins out at a 2.5-1 margin. And given the lack of effort and concern that 2K has shown the PS3 consumers (no framerate patch) expect that to widen next year. Interestingly the PS3 version of 2K8 did rise and that was with the added competition of The Show releasing at the same time. The increase in PS3 user base seems to have helped both titles yet on the 360 a lot of people seem to have given up on the 2K series or have switched over to the PS3 for their baseball gaming.

Baseball titles have never been relied upon as huge sellers. That was until the 3rd party exclusive license came about and 2K sunk a significant amount of money into it. The sales on the 360 where they have exclusivity are definitely not justifying it.