The 2019 announcement that MLB The Show would go multiplatform as part of Sony Interactive Entertainment’s renewed licensing agreement was a big enough surprise, but the fact that the inaugural entry on Xbox Series X and Xbox One would arrive on Xbox Game Pass on launch day was nothing short of shocking.
According to Inverse, the decision to bring MLB The Show 21 to other platforms outside of the PlayStation family, as well as Xbox Game Pass, came from MLB. In a quote from a PlayStation representative (which was also provided with no additional context to Game Informer upon request), PlayStation implies that the decision came directly from Major League Baseball.
“As part of the goal for this year’s game, MLB decided to bring the franchise to more players and baseball fans,” a PlayStation representative said in the statement. “This decision provides a unique opportunity to further establish MLB The Show as the premier brand for baseball video games.”
Since the statement was provided with no additional context, it’s unclear whether the quote is referring to Major League Baseball influencing the series’ jump to Xbox platforms as a whole or the series’ appearance as part of the Xbox Game Pass subscription service on day one. It’s entirely likely that it’s both, seeing as how the multiplatform announcement came as PlayStation renewed its licensing deal with MLB; it’s entirely plausible that MLB looked over at Xbox (and potentially other platforms in the future) and saw a landscape that featured series like R.B.I Baseball and Super Mega Baseball and thought it would make more sense to bring the top Major League Baseball franchise to the those consoles rather than allowing MLB The Show to remain an exclusive title.
Despite Super Mega Baseball, which released its third entry in 2020, generally receiving positive reception from fans and critics, it does not feature the MLB license. The R.B.I Baseball series, which does feature the MLB license and is even developed in-house by Major League Baseball Advanced Media, has been panned across the board since its 2014 revival. The most recent triple-A MLB-licensed franchise to appear on Xbox was MLB 2K13, which released on Xbox 360. Unfortunately, the once-great series saw a marked decline in quality in the final years of its run, and at the end of 2013, 2K Sports announced it had no future plans to develop MLB games. That led to Sony’s MLB The Show becoming the sole triple-A Major League Baseball title on the market, leaving Xbox-owning baseball fans with little choice until this year’s release.
MLB The Show 21 comes to PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on April 20. For more on this first multiplatform release, check out our detailed rundown of what’s new in this 2021 entry here.