MLB takes a swing at the video game business

By: Matt McGovern Email
By: Matt McGovern Email
The league

RBI Baseball '14.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) - Major League Baseball is throwing gamers a curveball.

MLB Advanced Media, the league's digital arm, has released a baseball video game for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Apple mobile devices. The game itself, RBI Baseball '14, is fairly conventional, but its release is not: It marks the first time a major professional sports league has developed its own console game.

For its initial foray into console game development, MLBAM rebooted a classic 1980s Nintendo game.

Licensing trademarks to big-game developers like EA Sports and 2K Sports has been lucrative for sports leagues in the past. But aside retaining final say over the games, the leagues generally don't get involved in hands-on development.

So why is MLBAM taking the risk of doing their own in-house development?

Baseball console games are becoming rare. After years of lackluster sales, 2K Sports let their MLB license lapse, which left Sony's MLB the Show as the sole remaining console game.

Cheap might be the key selling point. RBI Baseball '14 retails for $19.99 for the Xbox and PlayStation versions, while Sony's baseball game costs $40 more. Being a part of MLB saves money on team trademarks, but Bowman said that MLBAM isn't focused initially on turning big profits.

MLBAM says versions of the game for Android, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One will be coming later this spring.

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