Nintendo pitches first-party MLB game

Nintendo Pennant Chase Baseball becomes the second pro baseball game set for release following the Take-Two/MLBPA "exclusivity" deal.

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In a surprise move, Nintendo today announced it will release its own baseball title, Nintendo Pennant Chase Baseball. The game is being developed by Exile Interactive, the studio that brought Sega's World Series Baseball 2K3 to the plate. It will be available on April 4 exclusively for the GameCube.

The game is fully licensed by Major League Baseball and its Players' Association, and will feature real players from real MLB teams, as well as every ballpark and a few legendary stadiums from the past. Red Sox darling and American League Championship Series MVP David "Papi" Ortiz will be the cover athlete.

Nintendo Pennant Chase Baseball will also feature the commentary of former Arizona Diamondbacks' manager Bob Brenly and the Seattle Mariners' sports announcers Rick Rizzs and Tom Hutyler. The Mariners duo was a natural call for Nintendo, who owns a portion of the team due in large part to the presence of right fielder Ichiro Suzuki, the most popular athlete in Japan.

Earlier this week, Take-Two Interactive took a shot at Electronic Arts by signing an exclusive deal beginning in 2006 with the Major League Baseball Players' Association in retaliation for EA's purchasing of the exclusive third-party game rights to the National Football League. However, one of the stipulations of the Take-Two deal allows first-party publishers--i.e. console manufacturers--the right to publish their own baseball game with full MLB licensing rights.

While Nintendo's Pennant Chase Baseball isn't necessarily a shot on the chin for Take-Two, it does highlight the porous nature of the "exclusivity" it attained. While EA can watch from the dugout knowing that no one else can publish an NFL game, Take-Two will always be looking over its shoulder at competition from Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft. If Nintendo is able to establish a fan base with Pennant Chase, it could be strike two for Take-Two, since Sony's MLB series continues to draw in PlayStation 2 owners. Microsoft retired its Inside Pitch franchise when it disbanded its XSN sports subbrand, although the first-party loophole in the MLB/Take-Two deal may cause the company to resurrect it.

GameSpot will have more details on Nintendo Pennant Chase Baseball soon.

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