Why MLB The Show is King In Sports Gaming Quality and Why Baseball Is Dying

Before jumping into this explanation, please understand when referring to baseball video games we are referencing the MLB The Show series.  In no way is 2K Baseball close to being as good as The Show.  That is a different point for a different day.

Today we are focusing on comparing MLB The Show to any other sports gaming platform out there.  The top competitor is actually soccer/futbol but in the United States you will be hard-pressed to find anyone that knows how transfers and team management works in soccer (present party included).  If it seems that I am coming from a somewhat biased perspective it is because I am.  The best selling games in 2012 have been the more popular titles of course, but are they really the best?  No.

The Show has been one of the most consistently high-quality and true simulation sports games over the lifetime of this console generation.  SCEA (the developer of The Show) has been one of the most highly rated sports gaming developers because of the quality of The Show.  Between the actual gameplay and the depth of modes like Franchise Mode as well as the new Post-Season Mode there is little more to be desired.  However, that is where The Show really shows why it is the best sports game out there with so many details like ball trajectory and other physics based implementations that you will start asking where it is in other games like Madden.

While The Show is by far the best baseball game when competing with the awful 2K Baseball, its only competition in terms of quality comes from EA Sports’ NHL and FIFA games.  The one thing you will notice is that baseball, hockey and soccer are all ‘niche titles’ with relevance to a select number of people in the United States.  Baseball has been dying a slow death in terms of popularity among sports fans.  That may be a big reason why The Show flies under the radar when compared to games like Madden and NBA 2K (which are typically the higher selling sports titles in the U.S. every year).

The trend of baseball gaming has been on a down-slope as far as game sales go.  But that doesn’t mean you should ignore the fact that if you enjoy baseball and want to play a great video game version of the sport.  Go out and buy a PS3 if you don’t have one (as this game is only available on the PS3 console) and get The Show.  It is that good.

Why Is Baseball Dying?

I am of the opinion that baseball was both saved and destroyed by steroids.  The 1993-94 strike made many fans turn their backs on baseball.  It wasn’t until the home run explosion between 1996 and 2001 that people started to care about baseball again.  Say what you want about the ‘purity of the game’ but steroids brought fans back and brought more money to owners as attendance went through the roof.  Then, as if someone called the cops to bust up a great party – the Mitchell Report destroyed the game from the inside out.

Kiss your career good-bye, Alex. You’re done.

The legacy of steroids in baseball goes back to the 1980s where there was a tremendous boom in the overall use and production of Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs).  This is also the same time period that saw the beginning of Free Agency (players were able to look for new teams as their contracts expired).  While this was something that happened a few times before, it became quite normal as the 1980s and 1990s came and went.  This should make you consider the motivation that players had to use PEDs – it was about the ability to command more money in their contracts.  If a player like Barry Bonds could increase his output as a batter from an average of 25 HRs during his time with Pittsburgh to 39 HRs during his stay in San Francisco, why wouldn’t he use what he could to demand more money?  The same goes for players like Alex Rodriguez who could be on his way to a Lance Armstrong collapse in the coming weeks.

People suspected that players like Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds were on some sort of PEDs as they started having numbers pile up that no one had seen in the history of the game.  Why is it that some fans were so appalled when the report came out.  Many people started making these players they all but worshiped at one point into pariahs to save face in some sort of non-existent social witch hunt.

The Three Musketeers

I am not suggesting that steroids should be legalized or that they don’t artificially inflate statistics.  I will demand that society takes a look in the mirror and honestly asks what they want from entertainment.  Society doesn’t want purity in sports.  Society wants to appear concerned about safety and legitimacy while demanding more power, speed and violence.  We are living in the greatest example of hypocrisy in entertainment and the only thing we can do is edit our video game rosters and change every player’s ability rating to 99 – call it digital steroids.

 

Is This The Worst Year In Gaming?

You may read the title and think I am nuts, but continue reading and you will see the light.

The first and most obvious sign that this year is a bad one for developers is the fact that we have Call of Duty Black Ops 2 (from Treyarch, aka – The Bad COD Developer) competing against (and already defeating) EA’s Medal of Honor: Warfighter.  Why do these two high profile games make a case for this being the worst year in gaming?  The answer goes a bit deeper but we will start with the fact that you have already seen these titles before.  Black Ops 2 is going to be based in the ‘future’ and Warfighter lets you fight in a war against terrorism with different groups of fighters from around the world.  Terrorism, future bad guys, leaderboards, prestige ranks, overpowered weapons, whining teenagers and ‘reload’.  You now have the end of 2012 being a fine example for what 2012 was for many gamers – the worst year in gaming.

 

Exhibit 1 – Mass Effect 3

It is one thing to have games like Call of Duty bringing whining people out of the woodwork, but when it is an RPG and you bring the nerds out of the woodwork – you better be ready to see the gates of Mordor open up and Sauron to have his eye upon you.

Mass Effect 3 was disappointing for multiple reasons, outside of the lame ending (which caused many Mass Effect fanboys to demand and get their money back from Amazon) there was also the somewhat forced multiplayer component.  The problem with multiplayer in story-based RPGs is that it makes it feel more like a buddy movie than an epic saga.  Say what you want, but Mass Effect 3 was a bad omen for gaming in 2012.

 

 

 

Exhibit 2 – No New Console Updates

You would think that with the gaming community all but beating on the doors for a new console from Sony and Microsoft that there would be some talk about a new console or at least some sort of new processing power that they are working with.  You have gotten nothing but rumors and even those are only coming from the XBox… where are the Playstation rumors?

 

 

 

Exhibit 3 – Sports Titles Are Garbage

Somehow there is a way to screw up games that are based around stuff we enjoy on an everyday basis.  While there is one shining beacon of hope coming from Sony’s MLB The Show baseball series – it seems that every mainstreamAmerican sports game (soccer and hockey somehow avoid this distinction) is a sad excuse for software development.

Be honest, Madden and NCAA Football have been essentially the same game for 3+ years.  While they have made some tweaks in Madden for Real Time Physics and Tuners (which werenever once used) they have avoided any real sense of innovation since they bought the exclusive rights to make NFL games and knocked 2K Sports out of the running.

This left 2K to throw their weight behind two sports – Basketball and Baseball.

2K’s basketball is perhaps only rivaled by MLB The Show in quality and overall awesomeness.  It is incredibly deep and very well developed.  The game is smooth and the AI/CPU is intelligent during the game.  The depth of Association Mode and My Player being this game to the forefront of sports gaming.  Unfortunately, 2K also makes baseball games.

2K baseball has been a disaster ever sense MLB 2K8 was released, between the glitches and frame-rate issues there is little reason to talk about, let alone consider this game as anything more than the XBox owner’s only option for baseball gaming.  That is the saddest part of all.

Sports gamers often have no choice.

There are many other reasons we could sulk over a bad year in gaming, but what about the perks and the great things that have happened in gaming?  Don’t worry – we will have a lot of time to cover those as NoobTubeTV is going into overhaul to bring you the best in gaming.