2K going to World Series, EA steps up to NCAA plate?

EB Games lists a special World Series Edition of MLB 2K5; Indianapolis newspaper says EA is working on NCAA Baseball.

As October looms just over a month away, the baseball race is heating up with the red-hot Oakland A's vaulting into first place of the AL West and with both leagues' Wild Card races completely up for grabs.

The digital baseball pennant race, long thought to be over when 2K Sports acquired the exclusive third-party rights to Major League Baseball in January, may be just as close as its real-life counterparts.

After 2K Sports made its licensing move, it may have decided that one baseball game a year wouldn't be enough. Baseball games typically launch near MLB's Opening Day, but according to EBgames.com, a new diamond dandy is scheduled to slide home in time for the playoffs.

A product page on the online retailer's site shows a listing for MLB 2K5 World Series Edition for the Xbox (no listing for the game on any other platforms is on the site). 2K Sports has not yet announced the game, but rumors about its existence have been making their rounds in various forums. A ship date for the game indicates that the title will take swings in October, the month famed for baseball's playoffs. Its list price is $24.99--five dollars more than the original version.

There are no details about the game, but the original MLB 2K5 was found to have some technical faults. Every so often, pitchers would uncork passed balls at random, effectively ruining the game's primary dynamic. Roster updates have also been an issue, as teams such as the Atlanta Braves (which starts upward of seven rookies) look nothing like their big-league counterparts. A World Series Edition could alleviate these problems and give gamers a chance to play some winter ball.

Electronic Arts, on the other hand, was seen as the loser in the MLB licensing deal. Though the giant nabbed NFL licensing, and just about every other football brand, its MVP Baseball series had been making impressive strides out of the box and was lauded by both fans and critics.

But word out of online forums indicates that EA isn't being held at third base. According to a posting on the message boards of Operation Sports, a producer of EA's MVP Baseball team said the squad had an upcoming announcement about its next project. Rumors swirled about the possibility of an NCAA Baseball game, but nothing could be confirmed.

That is, until one looks at an article posted on August 21 on Indystar.com, the online version of The Indianapolis Star. In a piece about college football games, the Star leaks a whammy: "In February, EA Sports will release the first NCAA baseball game, with aluminum bats and the College World Series." With EA's success in the college game (NCAA Football 2006 was July's top-selling game), could a college baseball game be far off?

While nothing has yet been confirmed by EA, it appears as though there may once again be a two-team race to next spring's Opening Day.

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