MLB The Show 21 launching into Xbox Game Pass was reportedly MLB's decision, not Sony's

MLB: The Show
MLB: The Show (Image credit: Sony)

What you need to know

  • MLB The Show 21 is the next-gen entry in a franchise that has historically been exclusive to PlayStation.
  • Recently, it was revealed that the first-party PlayStation title was launching on Xbox and PlayStation at the same time.
  • Even more shocking was the news that MLB The Show 21 would also come to Xbox Game Pass day and date.
  • According to a new report, the decision to bring MLB The Show 21 to Xbox was solely MLB's decision, and not Sony's.

Xbox Game Pass is hurdling from one victory to another in recent months, and recently announced that the long-time Sony-developed franchise MLB The Show is not only launching on Xbox and PlayStation, but MLB The Show 21 is also launching into Xbox Game Pass day and date. MLB The Show 21 launching on Xbox as a first-party Sony title is already a huge deal, but its inclusion in Xbox Game Pass is almost mind boggling. It appears that the decision to bring MLB The Show 21 to Xbox likely wasn't Sony's decision, according to a report from Inverse.

When the news that MLB The Show 21 was launching on Xbox and Xbox Game Pass broke, many gamers speculated that this might signal the beginning of the end for Sony's decades-long approach to games exclusivity. However, these speculations have been shattered by a PlayStation representative that spoke to Inverse, and confirmed what a few of us already believed: MLB The Show 21 is heading to Xbox because of MLB, not Sony.

As part of the goal for this year's game, MLB decided to bring the franchise to more players and baseball fans. This decision provides a unique opportunity to further establish MLB The Show as the premier brand for baseball video games.

MLB made the decision to have Sony bring MLB The Show 21 to other platforms in an effort to expand the franchise to more players and, therefore, more revenue. Launching MLB The Show 21 on Xbox Game Pass further accomplishes this goal, as it introduces a new franchise (for Xbox) to over 18 million Xbox Game Pass subscribers.

Between Outriders and MLB The Show 21, Xbox Game Pass is truly crushing it with the value prospect. After all, Xbox players will be able to play MLB The Show 21 and hundreds of other high-quality titles for as much as $15 a month, while PlayStation players have to pay as much as $70 just to play MLB The Show 21.

MLB The Show 21 launches on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One, PS5, and PS4 on April 20, 2021. You can also play MLB The Show 21 through Xbox Game Pass, making it one of the best games on Xbox Game Pass for sports fans.

Zachary Boddy
Staff Writer

Zachary Boddy (They / Them) is a Staff Writer for Windows Central, primarily focused on covering the latest news in tech and gaming, the best Xbox and PC games, and the most interesting Windows and Xbox hardware. They have been gaming and writing for most of their life starting with the original Xbox, and started out as a freelancer for Windows Central and its sister sites in 2019. Now a full-fledged Staff Writer, Zachary has expanded from only writing about all things Minecraft to covering practically everything on which Windows Central is an expert, especially when it comes to Microsoft. You can find Zachary on Twitter @BoddyZachary.

  • I figured. Sony wouldn't shoot themselves in the foot like that. Plus MLB is listed as the publisher on Xbox, so it would make sense that it's their decision to make.
  • Isn't this some sort of lame damage control from Sony's part? Shouldn't have they just stayed silent? I might be misreading this, but it seems they are willing to throw their publishing partners under the bus if push comes to shove, and even shows the MLB might have a (whatever kind of reason, probably money) reason to not stay exclusively with Sony.
  • Yes, there definitely is a non-cash reason.
    Mostly because MLB SHOW isn't enough of a cash stream to make a dent in the MLB pockets. What is Sony paying? $4-5 a copy? Sony needs to make some money. The retailers need to make money.
    Even if every Sony gamer bought a copy (not even close) the total MLB take would be less than a star shortstop's free agent deal. The PR said it clearly: taking the game multiplatform is about increasing the number of people engaged with the game, preferably young ones. And one thing GAMEPASS can guarantee is 18M curious people. Not all will play, much less buy. But they will be more aware of the MLB product. In other words, from where MLB stands today, after a year without fans in the stands and a truncated season, the promotional aspect outweighs the added revenue from XBOX sales and the MS GAMEPASS promotional cashbox. Sony had two choices: go multiplat or lose the franchise. No choice, really.
    Likewise they had no choice but to come clean given the reaction of their most rabid fan----.
    You live by fan loyalty, you die by fan loyalty.
  • MLB is fully in control of the situation. They weren't going to allow Sony to renew the license if it didn't go multiplatform. In addition, Sony is not the publisher for this game on Xbox (and Switch and in the future, PC). MLB is actually the publisher which means MLB is the one reaping the profits while Sony only got developer fees. Which also means Microsoft negotiated with MLB to put it in Game Pass. So on many levels, Sony got royally screwed. They're not profiting from it being on Game Pass (MLB is), they're having one of their treasures go to their rival, and they're being undercut where it's essentially free for Xbox gamers and Playstation gamers have to pay $60-100 for it. And because GP users get a discount on game purchases (and this discount stacks on any other sale), GP users will be able to buy the game cheaper than Playstation gamers as well as be able to play it for free until the price of the game drops. So if there's a summer sale where the game is $60 instead of normally $70, then a GP gamer gets a discount off that $60 instead of off that $70. Essentially, an Xbox gamer gets to play the game longer than a Playstation gamer and pay less for it.
  • Sony fans probably aren't happy with this.
  • Baseball is not as popular as NFL or NBA especially when it comes to mainstream fans.
    Baseball wanted to reach a larger audience and convert them to fans especially younger ones.
    This is about branding nothing more, it just Sony was at the wrong end of the stick with this deals. Just business and nothing else.
  • One thing XBOXers need to remember: don't expect too much from the game. First, the two platforms are quite different and unless the port development was contracted out, the developers won't be as familiar with the DirectX environment as they are with the PS tools. At best, the XBOX version will be less optimized; at worse it will launch with more bugs than a mangy dog has fleas. (Like, say, Cyberpunk.) Second, just as MS said Bethesda games need to perform best on XBOX when not exclusive, Sony has a vested interest in making sure the Playstation version performs best. The easiest (and cheapest) way to achieve that is to tune the XBOX version for the One S and One X. And leave the frame rate unlocked. That should let it perform like a BC game, which is as they say "close enough for government work". They have pushback enough from the installed base as is, without doing a truly optimized XBOX version that outshines PS5. THE SHOW on XBOX is likely going to be akin to the chess-playing dog; miracle enough that it plays at all.
  • I really don't think they will purposefully make it worse, or not optimize it. That would just come off as very unprofessional. MLB is publishing it, and I'm sure they want a high quality product. Of course, MLB has published the awful RBI Baseball the last few years, but don't see them being content with a purposefully unoptimized game. You know people will be placing side by side comparisons on YouTube, MLB is going to expect similar performance.
  • Similar performance doesn't mean equal.
    Nor does it mean using everything the SX and SS bring to the table that might do things PS5 can't.
    It's not a matter of sabotaging the port so much as not going the extra mile. Remember, it is standard practice for crossplatform games to perform best on the lead platform.
    I see no reason why the developers would want to push, say the SX, beyond what the P5 can do or the Ss beyond the PS4 Pro.
    The least they can do will be the most they will do, especially because XBOX support was forced on them.
  • I never said similar means equal, or that they are shooting for more than the PS5 can do. These are software creators that take pride in their work. I seriously doubt they will give a "least they can do" type effort. They are professional software engineers, and I believe they will give nothing but a top notch effort on both console's versions. At the end of the day, regardless of who is publishing the game, their individual names are still listed in the credits. I know I wouldn't want to be credited in a game, where the engineering team behind it was looked at as only giving a "least they can do" type effort. Just my opinion, hope you don't take offense, I just feel very differently than you about this. I've been wrong before, guess we'll see in a few weeks.
  • I played beta versions on both Xbox and PS. I was part of the beta on Xbox and my good friend of mine part of the beta test of the PS version (which I played) and there was no real difference other than some minor features related to the capability of each machine. In fact, the PS version had a few hiccups that I did not experience on my Xbox. You might want to get off your PS fanboy box and just sit back and take the L's. These cross-plat contracts often have clauses of misconduct along with parity clauses. (e.g PS5 = SX not BC) Think of them as morality clauses. If Sony was found to purposely do any of the things you imply they would violate those contractual obligations. And MLB would pull the license usage under these damage clauses. Because MLB would be suffering the brunt of that exposure. And rightfully so as MLB (as the reason for going to multi-plat) is trying to reach a broader audience would have been damaged by negligent and intentional behavior. By the way, Xbox support was not forced on them. They made a business decision. They had an option to let MLB shop the license elsewhere and lose the IP. An IP that they did not own. That is the risk of licensing something you don't own (like EA and Star Wars IP). Or they could make the game multi-plat. Nobody forced Sony to do anything other than Sony's love of the all-mighty dollar. EA, who wanted to get back to making a baseball game, surely would have not had a problem with multi-plat. Speaking of licensing IP. I am sure Spider-Man after the next game Disney will make similar requirements for any future version as part of any negotiation for using the IP in games. Either Sony will have to make it multi-plat to keep it or they will have to provide a lot in return to Disney/Marvel to keep it exclusive. Disney honey potted Sony. Disney was playing the long game. They have always wanted that film license usage back and I bet that will be the deal for any long-term Spider-man game license. Which might be Sony's only way to keep it exclusive. And since the first game made almost as much profit as the last two movies combined and all with less investment upfront it might a smart move to do so.
  • Nice feedback on the beta. I had signed up, but didn't get picked (I may have just missed the invite though). Going to go dig thru my inbox :) Edit: nothing in my inbox, I may be remembering the "intent" to look into the beta, LOL. No big deal though, not much longer to go.
  • The spider rights have been a mess to understand... from what I get comics and merch are marvel exclusive, movies are sony's as long as they put a movie out at least every 5 years and marvel can use the character in there other movies and Sony benefits of spider's inclusion in MCU. But for the video game it seems the rights are marvel but I wouldn't be surprised if there is some sort of deal with Sony on that part too. There isn't a lot of official info on that specific right ownership at the present. Activision used to have exclusivity rights until 2014 I believe.... maybe you have more info on those specific spider rights...?
  • You should change your gamertag to KARNAK.
  • What dev doesn't know the DX ecosystem? It's like saying an office worker doesn't know word.... give e me a break, if you ever developed for PC which a y dev should have you know direct x period. It might not be as good as the PS5 version, but there is no reason it will run poorly unless the devs are noobs.....
  • So Jim Ryans found out when we all did 🤣😅
  • double post, sorry
  • It's interesting that they're free to do it. It's also interesting on what it means for Sony, if this becomes a trend. I mean, their developing houses want to be on their rival's service, because yeah, it's great for everyone. Doesn't make Sony look good. But they dug their own grave.