Major League Baseball games has always had an up and down history on video game consoles. Going back to ESPN's Baseball Tonight and even Ken Griffey Jr. baseball, games that feature "America's Pastime" was either very successful or extremely unsuccessful. One of the games that saw a measure of successful over years was 2K's Major League Baseball franchise. Early to mid-2000's versions of the game showed the public what a good baseball game could be and the future looked bright for the baseball franchise was 2K Sports. They even agreed to a exclusive third-party licensing contract with Major League Baseball in 2005, a deal that was signed for six years. But that a short-lived future for the 2K baseball.
After introducing Inside Edge scouting and the Swing Stick, many thought that 2K had found a formula for success. In 2006, Sony released the first installment of MLB: The Show and over the last few years, this game started to overtake 2K's MLB games for owners of the PlayStation 2 and PlayStation 3. On top of the competition, 2K's quality for the baseball series began to go down as it seemed as if the company began to focus more on the NBA 2K series and putting resources towards that game. Last year's game, MLB 2K13, almost seemed as if 2K had to get something out as it was practically the same game from the year before with updated rosters. It seemed as if 2K had thrown the towel in on their baseball game and on Monday, the match was officially called.
The website Pasta Padre reported that 2K had pretty much erased any mention of baseball from their resume. "The 2K Sports website no longer lists any MLB games and even searching for MLB produces zero results," says Pasta. "The 2K forums no longer house any sections for MLB. Even more startlingly the Facebook page for the MLB 2K franchise has been deleted - pages with hundreds of thousands of "fans" don't just disappear unless there is explicit reason for them to be closed." Late Monday, Polygon was able to get a statement from 2K concerning the future of baseball for the company.
"We have decided not to renew our MLB 2K series for 2014. We are very proud of the achievements made by the MLB 2K team and look forward to their contributions to our future titles, including NBA 2K - our industry's #1 rated and #1 selling basketball franchise," said a 2K representative.
It does make sense for 2K to focus on their NBA 2K franchise. Yes, I am talking about the same NBA 2K that has had major issues since the game's next-gen release and people are extremely upset about it. Reports have customers asking for and receiving refunds from NBA 2K14 since the game has become completely unplayable with modes such as MyCareer and MyGM freezing and crashing and users losing their purchased Virtual Currency at will. Yes it makes sense to put all of your power behind the game that is making you the most money but there is a major issue with cancelling the game.
Of course with a game being cancelled, you have the inevitable loss of jobs that comes with something being cancelled. In addition to that, 2K will be losing money by putting their MLB game on the shelf. While the game was lacking quality, it was the only choice for Xbox owners so that was guaranteed money for 2K and Take Two. With the troubles facing NBA 2K now and possibly in the future after the terrible showing from NBA 2K14, 2K may lose even more money without the MLB games. Yes it is early to think about next year's version of NBA 2K but is it really? For those of you who purchased NBA 2K14, are you thinking about not buying the next installment?
While the MLB 2K has stunk as of late, it is the end of an era for the sports video games. Slowly, competition within the sports gaming community is going away as MLB The Show is standing by itself and EA Sports' Madden NFL franchise is the only game in town. Throw in NHL for EA Sports as well and the end of NCAA Football, choices are slim and there isn't much discussion when it comes to sports video games. Is it good or bad? We don't yet but it's looking as if fans may be paying the price when it comes to quality and innovation without competition.