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Take-Two's Semi-Exclusive Deal with MLB

Take-Two's Semi-Exclusive Deal with MLB


Tuesday - January 25, 2005
Take-Two Interactive yesterday announced a semi-exclusive deal with the Major League Baseball Player's Association. The seven year deal starts in 2006 and prohibits third-party video game publishers from using the name or likeness of any MLBPA member. The deal does not yet extend to team names and stadiums, but Take-Two is working on that. This deal comes in the wake of EA buying exclusive rights to the NFL and ESPN and EA's 15 year deal to publish games. Take-Two seems to have made a bad deal.

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First of all, Baseball games are not the premier sports franchise in video games. In 2004 baseball titles took in $93 million while football games took in $384 million. I know that basketball games are somewhere in the middle and I'm guessing that soccer's world-wide popularity also puts it in the middle making baseball at least number 4 in video game sports.

Secondly, Take-Two's deal only precludes third-party publishers from using player's names. That means that Sony's, Nintendo's, and Microsoft's internal studios are not affected.

Thirdly, the deal is only for player's names and likenesses. The team names, ball parks, and other assets are still useable. And, let's remember that Barry Bonds is not a member of the MLBPA, so he could be the cover of a rival game.

Fourthly, Take-Two is rumored to have spent between $70 and $150 million on the deal and it didn't even get them ballparks or exclusivity from first-party publishers. That seems like an awfully big price tag for a genre (every baseball game out there) that only pulled in $93 million in 2004.

Fifthly (is there such a thing), Take-Two has been and seems to want to stay a one trick pony. That one trick is the Grand Theft Auto franchise. At least Take-Two already has the graphics engine for swinging a baseball bat. By making this seemingly misguided deal, Take-Two proves that it is willing to swing at pitches outside the strike zone.

For more information, check out the CNN/Money article.

Also, in a related story, SEGA has sold off its in-house sports studio, Visual Concepts, to Take-Two for a reported cost of $24 million. Take-Two has recently been the distributer for ESPN/SEGA games such as NFL 2K5, etc. After the EA and ESPN deal was announced, that went out the window.

Posted by Jeremy at 10:48 AM | TrackBack |


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