***IF YOU HAVEN'T DONE SO YET, DON'T FORGET TO READ PARTS 1 AND 2. OTHERWISE THIS WON'T MAKE SENSE!***
The first is that they just made a really terrible game. Despite owning a PlayStation 3 and playing The Show's incarnation on the system every year since MLB 08: The Show, I have played the majority of the 2k games. This was done mainly because I am a masochist who enjoys pain. The other reason that I played these games is because I am a huge baseball fan. I have to at least try out the games.
In early 2009, a month before the much hyped MLB 09: The Show was scheduled to be released, a disaster of epic proportions happened. I had been researching the new Show game for months. I had never been as excited for a baseball game than I was for MLB 09. The videos displayed significantly better graphics, better stadiums, brand new batting stances for players who needed them, like Mark Teixeira and Dustin Pedroia, and just a better game in general. In January of 2009, two months before the games release, a pipe burst in my gaming room. Fortunately, insurance covered everything, and the workers took everything in the room and put it in a storage unit, which again was covered. They fixed the entire room for free. New floors, new walls, new ceiling, new everything. They put everything back the way it was. It looked amazing, and I could finally play my PlayStation 3 again! So that wasn't the disaster you were expecting to read about, was it? Well, here it comes.
I am brushing my teeth, getting ready for school in the morning. I see my dad out of the corner of my eye. I hear him and my mom talking. "It doesn't look right, we have to move it." He was talking about the shelf above our television. He wanted to shift it down. Bad idea. I see him fumble and I hear a loud thud. I knew immediately what it was. This couldn't be real. Please tell me this didn't just happen. Please tell me that my backwards-compatible PlayStation 3, which is no longer in production, didn't just collapse the shelf and break. I walked hesitantly into the room, and low and behold, my worst nightmare had come true. Both my Xbox 360 (The same one I talked about earlier. Yes, it lasted that long.) And my beautiful, shiny, and heavy baby fell to the ground, from roughly 7 feet in the air. He tried to move the shelf while everything was still situated on it! I saw black chunks and pieces of chrome, scattered across our new wood floor. The PlayStation 3 was impaled by it's own parts. It had a piece going through it from one end to the other. It's as if somebody fell, and had a rib break off and it punctured the skin, and was sticking out of them. This heavy machine was completely destroyed, thus crushing my dreams of ever playing MLB 09: The Show.
My durable Xbox, three years old, still no red ring, survived the fall. And thus, it was my only source of playing a baseball game for a long time. I opted to get my PlayStation 3 fixed, instead of buying a brand new one, because I wanted that backwards computability. The PlayStation broke on March 1st, mear days before the release of my most anticipated game ever. I didn't receive my fixed one until the middle of July. I had to get my baseball fix. There was only one way to do that: MLB 2k9. The previous year's game, MLB 2k8, was one of the worst games I have ever played, worse than 2k5. Nothing about the game was good. The graphics looked like PlayStation 2 graphics, the pitching system made no sense, the hitting still resulted in almost 30 home runs a game. Luckily, it was just a rental. At first, I rented MLB 2k9. I was so amazed at the drastic changes that were made to every part of the game. The graphics, while still awful, were better than the previous years. And best of all, the new analog pitching system was the best way to pitch in a game, which I have ever used. Pitching suddenly became fun. Many glitches prevented the game from being good. The main glitch, being the one where you throw to first, and the first baseman's foot comes off the bag, and the runner is safe. The game was still fun, though. But it just wasn't MLB 09.
That was a relatively long story to say a short thing: I have played the MLB 2k games, despite owning a PlayStation 3 and owning every year's version of The Show, sans 09. 2k10 improved on the implementations introduced in 09. But after 2k10, it felt as if they just stopped trying to compete. 2k11 felt exactly like 2k10, not even a new coat of paint was added. I have yet to play 2k12, and I really have no intention after reading the reviews and playing the demo. Essentially, you are playing MLB 2k10 with some new roster updates.
The one thing that has always stood out to me in demonstrating 2k's laziness with the series, is a minor detail that only MLB fans would notice: the pictures. Despite switching teams, the players would still be wearing their old team's hat. For instance, in 2k9, Ken Griffey Jr. despite playing for the White Sox, and being a new member of the Mariners, was still wearing a Reds cap. This year's demo, Carlos Beltran, despite signing with St. Louis very early in the offseason, and playing with the Giants last year, is still wearing a Mets cap. It's little details like this, where it shows the amount of work that goes into the 2k games, and into The Show games. Prince Fielder signed after MLB: The Show had already finished rosters, and they still put him in the game wearing a full on Tigers uniform, which you can tell by the jersey. The Show cares about what they are putting out, despite being superior in every single way. The past two years, they have introduced new mechanics to hit, pitch, and field, complete with detailed tutorials. The best part? You can still use the old controls, and you can mix and match controls. They don't have to add new ways to play the core game, but they do regardless because they are trying to make the most perfect game of simulated baseball ever.
2k has gone the route of EA, which is: Why try, when we're the only option? How about to show you care? There is a reason why the NBA games from 2k are so great. They had competition. They had to beat EA. They did beat EA. They beat EA so bad, that EA didn't even come out with an NBA game the past two years. The same thing happened with the NHL series of games. Instead of buying the license, EA made such a significantly better game, that 2k bowed out of the race. That is what needs to happen with baseball. You need to strike out the opposition by simply making the better game.
Let's revisit that question I asked a few paragraphs back: Why was the license for 2k a disaster? Well, I have already gone over the first reason. It was a bad game, which was so inferior, that people didn't buy it, regardless of whether or not it was the only option. There is another factor in this situation, though. And this is one, which could make EA shy off from buying the license. People don't like baseball anymore. Baseball ratings have dropped mightily since 2k bought the license. Which was once a highly coveted license, is now one along the lines of NHL. Sure, it'd be nice to have it, but the price is not worth the admission. 2k had to overpay to get the license instead of EA. In doing so, they assumed the fans of baseball would keep growing. That was not the case. Kids don't want to play baseball anymore. They'd rather play football. Do you blame them? If you were a star athlete who had a choice between working your way up through minor league baseball, just to eventually make the bench of a team, or go to college were you can get drafted as a junior, then play immediately, which would you choose? Pretty simple, you go where the money is. And while that situation is referring to somebody who actually plays the game, the sentiment is shared by plenty of people who no longer watch baseball. The World Series in 2010, between San Francisco and Texas, was actually beaten in ratings by Monday Night Football. Less people watched a game that can decide a champion, than a meaningless game early in the football season. Ratings are declining, and there is no way 2k could have expected this. If you had told EA that this would happen when they were trying to buy the license, surely they would have backed off.
I'm not a financial wizard, but I would assume that the asking price for that MLB exclusive license has gone down since the bidding war in 2005. The assumption from around the web is that EA will either pick it up, or make an entirely new baseball game. It sounds like heaven. MVP 05, one of the greatest baseball games ever, remade for modern consoles? Sign me up. That's a big leap, however. You can't just expect a great game when you are making a new franchise. MVP 03 proved that. It also showed promise of what MVP 05 would become. Think about if EA were to buy the MLB license. The Madden NFL and NCAA football games were once two great games, with solid gameplay. Now, you look at the recent NCAA and Madden games, and you see a clear lack of effort. Rather than focus on core gameplay problems that their football games have, they implement useless features, which they can promote on the box and in commercials. Remember the brand new 'Fight for the Fumble' addition they were hyping years ago? What about this year's version with 'Brand New Presentation?' The presentations repeat themselves every game, and the commentary may very well be the worst ever implemented in a sports game. None of the fancy new features have addressed any of the multitude core gameplay issues. Why would they, though? It is obviously working. Every football fan will still buy madden, because it is their only option.
EA won't have that luxury, unless they were to buy the MLB license. If they buy it, then say goodbye to the years of refinement made by MLB: The Show, and say hello to the gimmicky new features of MVP baseball! Some people might buy it for the name, or the fact that EA made it, but it took The Show years and years to get to the point now, where they don't have to change anything, and it would still be the best sports game on the market. If EA decides to make a baseball game without the license, like they do with NHL, then maybe they create a game that is actually a worthy competitor. Still, even if they create a good baseball game, they won't get those PlayStation 3 sales like they would hope. There is no doubt in my mind, that if there was an EA Baseball game for the Xbox 360 next year, that it would easily outsell any of the MLB 2k baseball games that were released. But would it outsell The Show? It is possible, considering many people might want a change of pace, which 2k certainly did not deliver. But it wouldn't be until a second, more refined version is released.
EA getting the baseball license seems like what the general consensus wants, and understandably so. MVP 05 is still one of the greatest baseball games ever made. But would it be worth reliving that nostalgia, if it came at the cost of a license? Most fans feel, that yes, it would be worth it. I feel like I am in the minority in not wanting them not going that route. With competition, you could get a baseball that is on par with their other sports games -- like NHL and FIFA. With a license, you could get some not-so-great games like their other sport franchises: NBA Live, NASCAR and Madden. I know one thing, and that is, I don't want Madden Baseball 13.