MLB The Show is a baseball video game franchise whose popularity is concentrated solely in the United States. Nevertheless, MLB The Show 21, the delivery that will be released on April 20, surprisingly attracted the reflections of the entire industry in recent days. And it is not for less, because we are talking about a title developed by PlayStation that will also be available – at launch – on Xbox Game Pass. How did we get into this strange situation?
PlayStation Studios logo on an Xbox trailer
Let’s go in order. The first title in the franchise, MLB 06: The Show, debuted on the PlayStation 2 and PSP in early 2006. Since then, during 15 long years, no installment of MLB The Show has been available beyond Sony consoles, until now. Although the history of video games is not alien to the loss of exclusives in different sides, what is not usual is lose the exclusivity of a game that you continue to develop.
Both MLB The Show 21 and the installments that precede it were developed by San Diego Studio, one of the many first party studios on PlayStation. In fact, in the trailer directed to the Microsoft platform you can see the PlayStation Studios logo after the Xbox and Game Pass. Yes, it is a unusual situation for the times that run. Nevertheless, the real controversy lies in an uneven multiplatform distribution.
While PlayStation players will have to fork out full price for MLB The Show 21, on Xbox you just need to be an Xbox Game Pass subscriber to enjoy it from day one. If we consider that PS5 exclusive titles now cost $ 70 / € 80, it is clear that baseball fans will lean towards Microsoft’s proposal. Those of Redmond made a real home run because their offer is ideal and unbeatable, there is no doubt.
Of course, a part of the PlayStation community – those who play MLB The Show – are expressing their discontent Given the situation. And their reasons are fully justified, as they are now at a disadvantage even though the game “belongs” to PlayStation. However, that last thought is somewhat off the mark. In fact, it was not Sony’s decision that MLB The Show 21 would end up in the service of its main competitor.
A decision by MLB, not PlayStation
It is important to clarify that PlayStation did not fully control the distribution of MLB The Show 21. Also, the franchise belongs to Major League Baseball (MLB), the United States professional baseball league, which this year decided to expand its game to other platforms for the first time. It is they who will publish the title on Xbox, not Sony Interactive Entertainment. The objective, as you are surely already intuiting, is increase revenue. After all, this is part of a business; like it or not.
Sony itself has had to come out to give a statement about what happened. «As part of the objective of the game for this year, MLB decided to bring the franchise to more baseball players and fans. This decision provides a unique opportunity to further establish MLB The Show as the premier baseball video game brand. This was explained by a PlayStation representative to Inverse. To be honest, it was strange enough that a sports game was exclusive to a single platform.
Sony does not plan to replicate to Xbox Game Pass
Jim ryan, CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment, explained in September 2020 that subscriptions like Xbox Game Pass weren’t profitable for PlayStation: «We want to make games bigger and better. And hopefully, at some point, more persistent. So putting them on a subscription model from day one doesn’t make any sense to us. For others in a different situation, it might make sense, but not for us. We want to expand and grow our existing ecosystem, and putting new games on a subscription model just doesn’t fit that. Later, in November, it opened the door to compete directly against Microsoft’s subscription.
Regardless of what PlayStation’s response is in the future, the problem is that they now have no leeway to be able to compete with a service that will offer the same launch game. Although of course, being a niche title and limited popularity, the subject will surely end up buried as a merely anecdotal story. However, it is still a curious situation that exposes how the video game industry can take unexpected turns when it comes to filling the coffers.