Monday, January 24, 2005

Take-Two: We're Killing Competition, Too!

From Gamespot:
"The Major League Baseball Players Association ('MLBPA') today announced that it has reached an agreement in principle to grant sweeping rights to Take-Two Interactive, Inc., to develop and publish a broad portfolio of products that are expected to drive the baseball video game business to unprecedented heights," read the statement...

Initially, the vague wording of MLBPA's statement made it unclear if Take-Two had exclusive MLB rights after all. However, further along, the exact terms of the deal are spelled out. Starting in 2006, "Take-Two will have exclusive rights among third-party publishers to develop and market simulation, arcade and manager-style baseball video games on the current and next-generation PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo, personal computer and hand-held video game systems," read the statement. (Emphasis added.) Said third-party exclusivity will last for seven years, until 2012. Presumably, this means that Electronic Arts' pro baseball series, MVP, will not return next season.

What the phrase "exclusive rights among third-party publishers" means is that companies who make consoles (Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo) can still make baseball games with the MLBPA license. Sony makes a nice baseball game, and it might be very impressive on the PS3.

This is basically a deal to shut out EA beginning next year. So long, MVP. That was one of EA's most promising sports titles, unfortunately.

Another week, another shitty near-exclusive licensing deal. What should be clear now is that all the player unions and leagues want is more money. They couldn't care less about us as fans or gamers--if somebody scratches a big enough check, they're more than willing to cash it.

Here's what I don't understand: without the ability to publish a football game with the NFLPA license, I thought the sports line was dead. I can't understand why Take-Two wants the baseball license. They can't possibly make up for the lost revenue in football with the baseball game, and it's a seven-year license.

If Take-Two is going to have a team sports line, they have to have a football game. So when they announce that they're going to do a college football game in 2006, don't be surprised. I think that's something that can be read between the lines of this announcement. Without a football game (and a pro game without the NFLPA license is not going to sell at $39.95, and it won't be profitable at $19.95), the sports line just couldn't move enough units to make it viable. So they wouldn't buy this license unless they had already decided that a college football game was going to replace the pro version.

Regardless, I thought that Take-Two would get out of sports. Clearly, that's not going to happen.

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