When it comes to video games, exclusivity deals come and go, but I don’t recall seeing fans getting this worked up over one. A little over a year ago, MLB: The Show fans learned the PlayStation-exclusive game would release on other consoles. Nobody batted an eye. But now Microsoft announces the game will launch on Game Pass from day one, and the world as we know it is over.
Baseball game MLB: The Show has been a first-party exclusive franchise for Sony’s PlayStation consoles since 2006 when it first launched on the PS2. Earlier this month, Microsoft announced that The Show 21 is coming to Xbox on April 20, just one day after it hits PlayStation consoles, and the internet went nuts. Fans of the game were vocally outraged at the sharing of this long-time PlayStation exclusive.
There is really nothing that Sony can do about the situation. While Sony-owned San Diego Studio is the developer, the Major League Baseball Association still owns the MLB license. The association decided to extend that license to other platforms. It could have dissented and lost the license altogether, but Sony agreed with taking the game in this direction.
“As part of the goal for this year’s game, MLB decided to bring the franchise to more players and baseball fans,” a PlayStation spokesperson told Inverse. “This decision provides a unique opportunity to further establish MLB The Show as the premier brand for baseball video games.”
The news should not have come as that much of a surprise. The Major League Baseball association announced in 2019 that it had struck a new licensing deal with San Diego Studio. However, it’s not the new Xbox offering that upset fans. It’s that Microsoft is giving away MLB: The Show 21 on Game Pass from day one rather than charging the $60-70 that the game goes for on PlayStation.
Some players seem to feel that Sony should give the game away to Plus members or something. Obviously, April’s free games have already dropped, but there is no set rule that Sony cannot make the exception. It already offers titles for free sporadically through its Play At Home initiative. Sony might ultimately decide to do this, considering the blowback it is getting from its fan base. However, so far, it has not announced such an offering.
As it stands, MLB: The Show 21 launches for PS5 and PS4 on April 19 for $70 and $60, respectively. Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S versions arrive the next day (April 20) free on Game Pass. Game Pass and Game Pass Ultimate subscriptions are $10 and $15, respectively. The Show 21 is cloud-enabled for Ultimate subscribers to play even on Android and PC. Non-subscribers can purchase the title outright for XB1 and XSX|S at the same $60 and $70 price points.