EA Sports still dominates with baseball, six years later

At first glance, it’s incredulous that a baseball game sold in 2005 outperforms those in today’s market.

But, EA Sports and its MVP Baseball series (2004 and 2005 in particular) provided some of the best baseball games ever created. Ease of gameplay, top-notch graphics and some of the most advanced simulation options all went into what was MVP Baseball 2005.

I still own the PC version on a regular basis. The disc, scratched from years of use, has been with me for the past seven years and still works perfectly fine. Unfortunately, the 2005 game was the last one they made for Major League Baseball.

It’s stayed that way ever since the league’s licensing agreement of doom, which started in 2006, prohibited third-party developers like EA Sports from creating games for the MLB. The agreement was with 2K Sports, effectively giving them a monopoly on all baseball games.

Since that time, 2K’s MLB series has been trying to catch up to EA Sports’ MVP Baseball series. And it’s still a long ways off. Aside from the graphics, MLB 2K11 has some serious restrictions that EA Sports blew right out of the water.

Now, I’ve given 2K Sports the benefit of the doubt, and bought their Front Office Manager for PC. I spent a majority of my time on the MVP series acting as a General Manager, organizing trades, building up franchises over 20 years… you know, behind the scenes stuff. But, now and then, I’d like to take part in the actual game and hit a few dingers.

Versatility was MVP Baseball’s name. It was versatile while still being high quality in whatever mode you were in.

2K’s Front Office Manager was very in-depth with statistics and processes… but it was so clunky, with three separate windows needed to make one action. The system offered trades that were incredulous – imagine trading Felix Hernandez for Yuniesky Betancourt and Miguel Olivo, with some pocket lint on the side.

MLB 2K11 is a vast improvement, and to be honest, I’m in awe of a current roster. I’ve been playing MVP Baseball 2005 with the Mariners’ roster from back then. No Felix, no Guti, no Smoak and no crappy deals that Bill Bavasi made later in his time in Seattle. But, 2K11 still lacks the fine polish that MVP Baseball had. Some stats don’t register during the game, franchises won’t load (and thus crash), and the simulator still isn’t up to par.

In short, five years have passed where 2K Sports could make THE perfect baseball game. Unfortunately, during that span of time, it’s only just about to reach the level of quality that EA Sports had… in 2005. It’s time to end the monopoly and let the public decide what game is best. I’d by MLB 11: The Show if I owned a Playstation, but alas, that’s not the case.

With the licensing deal expiring in the spring of this year, it would be insane for EA Sports to not resurrect their incredible series. Since 2006, baseball games haven’t been the same.

Some things just work.


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