MLB The Show 21 might be considered the only baseball game in town these days, but there was a time when another baseball series was bigger and more popular. These days, MLB The Show's only real competitor is the new version of RBI Baseball, but that series doesn't have anywhere near the popularity of Sony's franchise. Back in the day, The Show was still plenty popular, but it wasn't the undisputed king of the hill. In fact, the MLB 2K series wasn't just a competitor, the argument could be made it was the more popular franchise. Then, 2K Sports folded up that particular tent and left MLB The Show to claim the throne for itself.
Just why the sports giant decided it was time to leave MLB 2K in the past is a question the franchise's still-loyal fans ask often. There are still people who swear by the last few versions, especially MLB 2K12. A quick search online shows quite a few mods and roster updates that give players the opportunity to keep playing a game that hasn't had a new edition in about eight years. The popularity of the series is one of the reasons shutting it down was a surprise.
One of the reasons people were quite surprised that the MLB 2K series shut down is that it was the only game in town for Xbox players. The franchise leaving meant that only PlayStation users had a simulation-style baseball game. Despite that fact, 2K Sports was rather matter of fact back in January of 2014 when it announced the cancellation of the series.
Interestingly enough, the company didn't really offer a rationale. Instead, it simply said it was proud of its work. It also made it clear that the people who worked on the baseball game were being reassigned to work on other sports games in the company's catalog. Still, it's important to note that the company gave up the license renewal to make baseball games on its own, not for any other particular reason. The dropping of the MLB 2K series appears to absolutely have been of 2K Sports own accord.
One reason the company might have decided it was time to move on from the MLB 2K series was that it wanted to focus more on its other titles. NBA 2K21 is the undisputed champion of simulation-style professional basketball video games. There was a time when a rivalry existed between NBA 2K and NBA Live. However, EA Sports eventually pulled the plug on its basketball series, allowing 2K Sports to become the king of that hill.
Things haven't been as solid for 2K's other big sports franchise, though. Eventually, there were enough problems in the development of the WWE series that the company decided not to release WWE 2K21 at all. Instead the company took a year off in hopes it could come back stronger with WWE 2K22. There's no way to tell what the overlap is between former MLB 2K developers, and Visual Concepts' WWE developers, but perhaps many former 2K developers have moved to working on WWE 2K22.
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