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Nine years ago, 2K nabbed baseball exclusivity (and continued its war with EA)

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Nine years ago this month, the sports genre was dealt a blow from which it has yet to recover.

On January 24, 2005, Take-Two signed an exclusivity deal that prevented all other third-party publishers from making games based on the Major League Baseball license. The timing gave it an air of reprisal, as not a month earlier EA had acquired to rights to be the only publisher, first- or third-party be damned, to be making a NFL-approved football game. The general consensus was that the two were in an exclusivity war over the sports genre.

Just as 2K's excellent NFL franchise needed to be put on hold, so too did EA's baseball series. At the time, EA was producing MVP Baseball--a terrific baseball sim that introduced numerous hitting and pitching innovations. When Take-Two snatched up the baseball license in 2005, it became a two-player game, with the MLB 2K's only real competition being Sony's MLB: The Show.

Nine years later, and it's clear that EA came out on top in this perceived war. For Take-Two, the baseball deal was a disaster that lost the company tens of millions of dollars. In 2013, Take-Two finally abandoned baseball after one last desultory effort. Madden NFL, on the other hand, has continued to reign supreme, easily swatting away Take-Two's non-licensed All-Pro Football 2K8, which, as these things go, came out in 2007.

Take-Two hasn't fielded a football team since.

This Week in Gaming brings you bite-sized gaming history every week. Come back to find out what the past can tell us about the future, and to reminisce about a time before high-definition visuals, always-online DRM, and digital distribution.

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2 comments

  • trevon-burtch - January 27, 2014 9:21 p.m.

    Man I miss MVP, come on EA! You know you want to release it, mvp 05 was great fun online and both ncaa baseball 06 and 07 were terriffic baseball games that aside from the graphics, hold up to this day.
  • universaltofu - January 26, 2014 9:39 p.m.

    I fear the acceleration of these articles, first it's twenty-eight years ago, now nine? Next it's three and then weird fractions of a year and before you know it we're dealing with articles recanting things we technically haven't even been able to perceive to have happened yet. After that best selling games of the last generation piece, I wonder if either party involved in this baseball deal looked at Wii Sports and was like 'what was it all for?'

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