2K warms up MLB 2K6

Annual (and occasionally biannual) game announced for spring on Xbox 360, Xbox, PS2, GameCube, PSP; Jeter steals cover.

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In the crowded field of dreams that is game licensing and publishing, "If you buy the rights, they will come" is a phrase Take-Two Interactive is counting on. In January, the Grand Theft Auto publisher and parent company of 2K Sports purchased the third-party rights to Major League Baseball-branded games during the flurry of sports-licensing deals that began with Electronic Arts acquiring the NFL license.

In a move about as predictable as intentionally walking Barry Bonds with first base open, 2K Sports announced Major League Baseball 2K6. Officially the second iteration of the franchise under the licensing deal (Major League Baseball 2K5: World Series Edition was released in October), the game will take its swings this spring on the Xbox 360, Xbox, PlayStation 2, PSP, and GameCube.

By owning the third-party rights to MLB games, Take-Two threw out EA from competition. Only console manufacturers Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft can make MLB games, and only for their own consoles. So far, Sony is the lone first party that has announced a baseball game, MLB '06: The Show for the PS2 and PSP, for the upcoming season. Nintendo may jump into the game, as Nintendo Pennant Chase Baseball was pegged to take the field before being canceled late in development. EA, not content to watch from the dugout, fought back and announced MVP 06 NCAA Baseball, a collegiate take on the sport.

With fewer competitors in the market, 2K Sports has expanded its usual platform roster to include the Nintendo GameCube, PSP, and Xbox 360. In recent years, 2K's baseball titles only played a doubleheader on the Xbox and PS2. The Xbox 360 version marks baseball's debut on next-generation systems.

The game will feature new animations, enhanced commentary, and "flashback replays." It will also bring back game modes, features, and New York Yankees captain Derek Jeter as the cover athlete, who previously posed for the cover of last season's 2K baseball game. 2K Sports will announce more features as MLB 2K6 approaches its release date.

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