Tampa Bay Rays ace David Price, winner of the 2012 American League Cy Young Award as the league's best pitcher, will appear on the game's cover. And 2K Sports will hold its fourth annual Perfect Game Challenge, the MLB 2K contest that awards $1 million for throwing a perfect game in the video game, later this year.
It's a surprising announcement for a number of reasons. 2K Sports' parent company, Take-Two, did not appear to have an interest in renewing its agreement with Major League Baseball, through which it held exclusive third-party rights to publish licensed baseball games. The deal, which was inked in 2005 and took effect in 2006, expired last year after the release of the lukewarmly received Major League Baseball 2K12. Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick told Reuters in December 2010 that the MLB 2K agreement was a "losing proposition" — it reportedly cost the company $30 million annually — and added that Take-Two would not renew it unless the economics changed, saying, "We don't have any interest in pursuing losing propositions."
When asked in May 2012 if the MLB 2K series had been canceled, a 2K Sports representative confirmed to Kotaku that MLB 2K12 was the last scheduled game under Take-Two's contract with Major League Baseball and that the deal would expire in the next year, before declining to comment further. During a financial call with investors that month, Take-Two said it expected losses associated with MLB 2K and its MLB agreement to disappear within the next two fiscal years, implying it would not be renewing its deal with MLB or making future MLB 2K titles. And the company's financial report at the time listed no MLB 2K game for 2013.
without MLB 2K13, Xbox 360-owning baseball fans would have been left in the lurch
The lack of an MLB 2K title in 2013 would have left Sony's PlayStation-exclusive MLB 13 The Show as the only simulation baseball game on the market — and consequently, would have left Xbox 360-owning baseball fans in the lurch. But Take-Two never officially confirmed it had canceled the MLB 2K series. And with today's announcement that MLB 2K13 is being made by Visual Concepts, it is possible that development on the franchise either never stopped or was not interrupted for very long — otherwise, the studio wouldn't be able to have the game ready for a release alongside MLB 13 The Show on March 5.
"We'd like to thank our league partners for their support in helping us reach an agreement to bring back MLB 2K," said Jason Argent, 2K Sports' vice president of marketing, today. The wording of the press release announcing MLB 2K13 — it says Take-Two has "reached an agreement" with the necessary parties to make the game — does not suggest that the company has signed another long-term exclusive contract with Major League Baseball. We've reached out to Take-Two and 2K Sports for more details, and will update this article with any information we receive.
2K Sports did not provide any details on MLB 2K13's feature set in today's announcement, but did release the game's box art; you can check it out below.
Update: A 2K Sports representative told Polygon, "There aren't any other details we can share beyond what's in the [press] release."