If you haven’t been paying much attention to baseball since the end of the World Series, you may have missed something major. As of December 2, MLB and MLB Players Association (MLBPA) have been without a collective bargaining agreement. Because of this, MLB locked out its players with no movement towards a new agreement. While many are concerned about if the 2022 season will happen, let alone start on time, there’s another group of fans wondering about the status of MLB video games like MLB The Show 22 and OOTP Baseball 23.
Both titles are scheduled to release this spring. However, with the games featuring MLB and MLBPA licenses, there is a concern that they won’t launch as expected. Luckily, at least as of this writing, there’s really nothing to worry about.
According to multiple sources, both games are expected to release around the usual window.
Starting with OOTP Baseball 23, the game’s Directory of Business Development Rich Grisham said that the developers are pushing along as normal.
“MLB and MLBPA are fantastic partners of ours that provide us with great support at all times,” he said. “Our teams are hard at work building the next generation of our titles.”
While the statement certainly comes across as a “cookie cutter” type of response, there is reason to believe that the game will be coming this spring. Despite the lockout between the MLB and MLBPA, promotion of the current game OOTP Baseball 22 has continued. While MLB can’t use players in marketing without a CBA, a game with a license with both parties appears to be able to continue doing so. That alone should help curb some anxiety for fans of the franchise.
Will MLB The Show 22 Be Any Different?
For MLB The Show 22, that water appears to be slightly merkier. Although Sony publishes the series on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 by Sony, MLB Advanced Media (MLBAM) has co-publishing rights on the Xbox family of consoles.
MLBAM is a branch under the parent MLB which means it must abide by the same rules as the league does regarding use of MLBPA members. That puts, you would assume, the release at least on the Xbox One and Xbox Series S|X at risk. But not so fast my friend.
When MLBAM handled the publishing of MLB The Show 21, it only managed the digital distribution of the game. That’s what allowed it to negotiate with Microsoft to make the game available on launch day on Xbox Game Pass.
As far as the licensing agreements with MLB and the MLBPA, that’s all with Sony as the primary publisher of the franchise.
A source within MLB says that the game’s launch will happen.
“A spring release has always remained the plan, even if there’s no agreement between the two sides by then,” the source said. “The game deals exist completely separate from the CBA.”
To add on to that, multiple sources close to the game’s development at Sony San Diego tell SGO that development has continued with no interruptions as of the start of the new year.
“Nothing has changed since December,” one source said. “There’s been nothing here to suggest that the game won’t be out on time.”
How Can the Lockout Impact MLB Video Games?
Back in October 2011, NBA 2K12 was released when the NBA was in the middle of its own lockout. Without a CBA between the league and its players association, rookies chosen in the 2011 NBA Draft weren’t available in the game. They only became a part of the official roster after the lockout.
On top of that, the game’s cover also featured no current-day player as Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and Larry Bird were the cover athletes that year.
That’s what we’re looking at here with both MLB The Show 22 and OOTP Baseball 23.
MLB The Show 22’s cover athlete isn’t likely to be an active player in uniform. In this situation, there’s a couple of scenarios at play:
- An MLB legend that isn’t a part of the MLBPA will be on the cover in a team’s uniform
- A current MLBPA star appears without being in his team’s uniform due to rules prohibiting and marketing of a player in team gear without an agreement.
Both are entirely plausible, and it’s likely that Sony has a plan in place for all scenarios should a new deal not happen in time. Of course, that decision is coming sooner rather than later with the game’s release a couple of month’s away.
Aside from marketing, other likelihoods of the lockout continuing involve rosters and various updates and events. Rosters within an organization aren’t going to be accurate, and live content updates in modes like Diamond Dynasty shouldn’t be expected to include players with current teams.
With OOTP Baseball 23, it’s possible that there will be no new Perfect Team cards with current players until a new CBA is official.
As of writing, the MLB Lockout appears nowhere near close to ending. So, as we wait for some resolution, it appears that the only way fans will get their MLB fix will be when the games launch later this spring.
What are your thoughts on the MLB lockout and the future of MLB video games? Let us know in the comment section below, and take the discussion further by joining the official Sports Gamers Online Discord server.