From 2004 to 2013, 2K Sports created a yearly game for MLB. For some, it was a game to play if MLB The Show didn’t appeal to them. For others (looking at you Xbox users), it was the only way for gamers to get their baseball fix.
However, 2K and MLB did develop other gamers outside of the MLB 2K franchise. From the arcade-style gameplay of The BIGS to the cartoonish looks of 2K Fantasy All-Stars, 2K did a good job of appealing to the interests of sports gamers. In fact, 2K took a crack at simulation-style games, releasing MLB Front Office Manager in 2009.
MLB Front Office Manager
Developed by 2K Sports and Blue Castle Games, MLB Front Office Manager put the player in the shoes of an MLB general manager. After customizing your character, the player can choose to be the GM for one of the 30 MLB teams and start work immediately after the 2008 World Series.
When looking back at this game, I remember feeling fascinated over the concept of it as there really wasn’t anything like it available on consoles. Sure, I could of played Franchise Mode on MLB 2K9 and pretend to be a GM, but this game was dedicated to being a game all about managing a baseball team
MLB Front Office Manager also featured something that others baseball sim games really couldn’t and that was input from an actual MLB general manager. Billy Beane, the then-current general manager of the Oakland Athletics, was an advisor for the creation of the game and also the “mentor” for a player’s character for the game. “You get to experience things like waivers…you learn exactly how the system works,” Beane said in an interview about the game in 2009.
Beane, an avid video gamer himself, saw the importance of video games in society and in sports communities. He wanted to make sure it was challenging and insightful because these types of games could play a major role in the future of many people. “People who play these games are bright people and they go on to be brighter successful people, and a few of these will be running baseball teams in the near future, I’m sure of it.”
No game really had that type of input, so MLB Front Office Manager was quite appealing to me, as I’m sure it was to others. The questions is, how was the game after launch?
MLB Front Office Manager was much more expansive than MLB 2K‘s franchise mode, and featured waivers, arbitration and even the Rule 5 Draft. In addition, the game featured amateur scouting in which players must allocate money for different regions in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico. This even included bidding wars for international players, something that even baseball sims today haven’t really been effective in creating for their games.
MLB Front Office Manager also featured online play, as gamers could join up with friends to compete against each other to build the best team. If gamers really wanted a challenge, they could choose the fantasy mode and start building their squad from scratch.
The game also featured a clean-looking home screen, where players can see the records of their team and minor league affiliates, along with pitching matchups. The game’s graphics and navigability were, for what it’s worth, pretty good and definitely a plus. However, that’s probably where the good of this game ends.
Even though the game looked nice, there were quite a few flaws that were easily noticeable throughout the game. For one, the ratings system was flawed, as players that had high ratings and overalls one year would randomly see them drop so much the next year that they wouldn’t even be playable. And I’m not talking about MLB players that were regressing due to age, but players that were in their prime years were experiencing this. To say this was mind-boggling would be an understatement.
To go along with this, MLB Front Office Manager also featured a fairly incompetent AI. Top draft picks would go unsigned by the AI and fall into the free agency pool the following year. CPU teams that couldn’t properly manage their payroll would release players between three to six years of experience into free agency for some inexplicable reason. In addition, the trading system was pretty easy to handle as well, as it would usually be pretty easy to grab players and dump salaries.
10 Years Later
Even though the game had a lot of bugs, I thought the franchise had a lot of potential since it offered a lot that baseball sims at the time really did not. Unfortunately, 2K Sports did not come out with a second version, so this is all we have.
For those who played it, did you enjoy it? If not, would you like something like this on consoles today? Let us know in our comments sections, or on our social media channels.
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