EA Sports, whose beloved MVP Baseball series went into exile when 2K Sports won an exclusive contract back in 2005, is working on a Major League Baseball-licensed property, according to ESPN's Jon Robinson. Before you get all giddy, a close reading of contracts leaves the impression this will be another Facebook game.
Robinson points out that the exclusive deal between 2K and MLB covers "simulation, arcade and manager-style games," on consoles, the PC and handhelds (as a third-party publisher. Sony's MLB The Show is allowed, as it is made by the console maker itself). It doesn't say squat about online games playable through a web browser, which is how Sega's MLB Manager Online, which launched this month, does bidness as a free-to-play online strategy sim (and also Quick Hit Football, licensed by the NFL despite its all-platform exclusive with Madden NFL).
EA Sports and Playfish, the Facebook games developer bought by Electronic Arts, brought us Madden NFL Superstars and FIFA Superstars last year, and EA Sports' On-Demand division delivered PGA Tour Golf Challenge on Facebook earlier this year. There's tremendous appetite for this within EA Sports, and as baseball is a no-brainer for a card-style management sim, that's probably what this is.
That said, next year is the last in the deal between 2K and MLB, and the CEO of 2K parent Take-Two Interactive has rather publicly bemoaned the unprofitability of that deal. Major League Baseball itself may find no takers for an exclusive third-party license in an economy much worse than what publishers faced in 2005. I'd say it's a matter of when, not if, that EA Sports gets back in the batter's box.