Baseball budgets: Pricing war begins

Online retailers speculate on baseball game pricing; 2K's MLB 2K5 might be $19.99, EA's MVP 2005 possibly $30.

Because not every gamer has a New York Yankees-style budget, the pricing of this year's crop of baseball games will probably be a large determining factor for the success of games based on America's pastime. With this season likely being the last for some franchises on the losing end of Take-Two's exclusive MLB deal, the pricing war may be a little more heated.

While only one game publisher has made an official announcement on the pricing of its baseball game, rumors are swirling that this year's batch may be the most affordable yet. Each publisher's big hitter, 989 Sports' MLB 2006, Electronic Arts' MVP Baseball 2005, and 2K Games' Major League Baseball 2K5, will be released on March 1. A $10 price difference could easily sway a gamers' decision.

Last year, Take-Two made headlines and major earnings when it decided to price its fall sports lineup (then known as the ESPN Videogames series) at $19.99. The move allowed Take-Two to weaken EA dominance of the sports-game market. While Take-Two has made no official announcement on the price of this year's game, Major League Baseball 2K5, online retailer EBgames.com is listing the game at the budget price of $19.99. A confirmation query to developer Visual Concepts, one of the newly formed 2K Games' internal studios, was met with this response: "We haven't made any official announcements regarding pricing, but we will be making new announcements in the near future regarding Major League Baseball 2K5." Major League Baseball 2K5 is being released on the Xbox and PS2.

Message boards are aflutter with the rumor that EA's MVP Baseball 2005 may be coming down in price. On one sports-games-related Web site, a forum poster, claiming to be the proprietor of an independent gaming store, said EA had asked retailers to drop the price of MVP 2005 down to $29.99. The price would be consistent with last November's decision to cut prices down from the usual $49.99 in reaction to Take-Two's $19.99 maneuver. EA was unavailable for comment at press time. MVP Baseball 2005 will be available for the PS2, Xbox, and GameCube. A PSP version will launch alongside the handheld in late March, and a PC version is due in the second quarter of 2005.

Sony is the only company that has given a firm price on its baseball game. The company has confirmed that its contribution, 989 Sports' MLB 2006, will hit store shelves for $39.99.

Nintendo's recently announced Pennant Chase Baseball is a new franchise from World Series Baseball 2K3 developer Exile Interactive The game will be featured exclusively on the GameCube and slides home April 4, a month later than the GameCube version of MVP 2005. While no official statement has been made about the game's price, online retailers list the debut game at $49.99.

GameSpot will have the final prices for all the games as soon as they are announced. To discuss this news further, head on over to GameSpot Sports.

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