Natal Could Bring Baseball to 360

Posted October 10th, 2009 at 7:16 pm


There is no doubt that the MLB The Show franchise has not only positively contributed to sales of the PS3, but maybe even more importantly it has brought additional prestige to the console. With 2K Sports only holding a third party exclusive MLB license that has left the door open for Microsoft to the produce their own. The prime opportunity could present itself when Project Natal releases next year.

As demonstrated first at E3, Natal is going to bring motion-controlled gaming to the 360 without the use of a controller. Instead a camera will capture the movements and translate them to the games.

How did the Wii acclimate gamers to motion controls? Through the use of Wii Sports. For something like Natal the same thinking would apply. The most accessible games for motion controls would be sports games because people are familiar with the movements involved and they can relate to taking over that individual perspective. Baseball certainly would seem to be a natural fit.

Gamers who only have a 360 have been holding out hope that Microsoft would develop their own MLB licensed game. It may be that they haven’t done so because the prospect would be difficult to come in right away and compete. It takes a few years before a sports game can have all the features, modes, and enhanced gameplay that consumers have come to expect out of them. However creating a game that would be completely unique would help separate itself from the competition because it would be more about the experience than getting all the details right at first.

One problem with creating a baseball game specifically for Natal is that the userbase would be restricted. Not everyone with a 360 will have Natal and though no price has been set it is expected to be significant. So either the game would have to be functional without the motion controls also or it would be used primarily to drive people to make the purchase.

Of course they could also create a baseball game for Natal that doesn’t incorporate the MLB license, but taking advantage of that opportunity would make it much more attractive and could draw some people in. The Show has done that for the PS3 and surely MS has recognized there is value to be had in first party titles. Natal will certainly need intriguing games at launch and a licensed product would help in the perception of it as a legit platform.

Natal is currently expected to release sometime late in 2010 so there is still a ways to go before any specific plans are revealed. However my hunch is there will be various sports titles related to it and that one of those could be an MLB offering if not immediately then eventually.