Just last week, Sega announced that its latest World Series Baseball game will be exclusive to Microsoft's Xbox for its first year on the market, leaving many baseball fans scratching their heads. After speaking with Sega about the reasoning behind the move, it appears that the decision was based on two things: the Xbox hardware and timing. "We have a very deep game, and the Xbox made the best fit for [the type of game we wanted to make]," said Stacey Kerr, senior product manager at Sega Sports. "Another issue was time. We moved the game to the Xbox so that we could release it close to the start of the baseball season and get a deep, good game out."
GameCube owners will still receive a Sega baseball game in the form of Home Run King, but Sega admits that Home Run King and World Series Baseball are two distinctly different types of games. "They're different experiences," Kerr said. "Home Run King is not very deep, and it lends itself to a much younger audience. It's a perfect fit for the GameCube, whereas World Series Baseball is a true simulation." Kerr also mentioned that the possibility of the general gaming public being confused by two new Sega baseball games on sale for a single system at once was never a concern. "The decision was made independent of positioning each game on different systems," she said.
While PlayStation 2 owners who are waiting for some kind of Sega baseball game will have to wait until WSB's year of Xbox exclusivity expires, Sega still recognizes the importance of the PlayStation 2 market when it comes to sports games. "All of our Sega Sports games will be on the PlayStation 2 next year," Kerr said. "It's a big focus for us, starting with College Football 2K3, NFL 2K3, and baseball, but [our main concern] is to deliver those games on time--at the start of the season when everyone is ripe with enthusiasm for their sports game."
When World Series Baseball is released for the Xbox, it will include a number of graphical improvements and new features. The franchise mode has been adjusted to include a greater variety of options, and the game will also include the Cooperstown license, which gives Sega the ability to incorporate historic uniforms and players. In addition, every player in the league has had his head scanned, so the faces on the in-game player models will have a realistic look. Many of the animation problems from previous games have been fixed, and a few adjustments have been made to the pitcher-batter interface.
World Series Baseball is scheduled for release in May.