Microsoft has scored big recently. The formerly Sony exclusive franchise, MLB the Show 21, is on its way to Xbox Game Pass. When the game lands on Sony for $70, Xbox Game Pass owners will be able to play the game for ‘free’ – Yes, I know a subscription fee isn’t entirely free. Still, players won’t have to make a hard cash purchase and will get to try out the game before committing. For gamers who aren’t fans of sports games, like me, being able to try one for free piques my interest.
What’s happening, though? A Sony rep told Inverse that “As part of the goal for this year’s game, MLB decided to bring the franchise to more players and baseball fans. This decision provides a unique opportunity to further establish MLB The Show as the premier brand for baseball video games.” So, the MLB saw that their deal for PlayStation exclusivity was hurting them in the end. Hopefully, this becomes a trend.
It’s important to note that while Sony publishes MLB the Show, they won’t handle publishing for Xbox. Instead, the MLB sets itself up as the sole publisher for their games outside of the Playstation family. This would be a much bigger story if Sony and Microsoft were coming together to release MLB.
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Could MLB the Show 21 mark a shift in developer strategy?
Exclusive video games on one of three major consoles rarely make sense unless we’re talking about brand exclusive characters. Nintendo has Mario, Xbox has Master Chief, and Playstation has Kratos. Either way, we understand that certain characters and their games will sit comfortably on one side of the fence. We’re usually told, “This game wouldn’t be possible on the other system,” but I doubt that’s always true.
Market competition won’t go away, but as a gamer, the MLB made the correct move. A video game should be open to as many players as possible, and I’m saying this as someone who inevitably buys every next-gen console. Developers should strive to hook as many potential fans as possible; otherwise, who is in it for the money? Are the exclusive deals made behind the scenes so lucrative that a franchise game existing on one console is a smart move? Certainly, for Sony, but MLB knows to be “the premier brand for baseball games,” you can’t stick to one company.
Xbox hints MLB the Show is the tip of the iceberg
Unfortunately, gamers don’t expect other third-party licensed games to make the jump suddenly. Of course, I’d love to see the new Spider-Man games on Xbox Series X. It would be nice no longer needing a PS5 to play one game – looking at you, Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade. It’s a business, and all of the big-name brands will continue to cut deals to make their shiny new console seem to be the best.
To that end, Microsoft is benefiting from MLB the Show 21 coming to Game Pass while Sony takes the L on this round. Xbox Game Pass continues to pick up steam with surprise title acquisitions, and that will continue. An Xbox rep told Inverse that “We curate the library with the diversity of our 18 million members in mind” and that for day one titles, they “look forward to bringing more new games to our members in the future.”
Microsoft, in the middle of all this momentum, could you cut a deal to bring Final Fantasy XIV and Final Fantasy VII Remake to Game Pass? Thanks.