The “biggest win” is slightly hard to quantify for our awards because it’s not a specific game or even necessarily a specific mode, but in 2023 it’s slightly easier to explain as we’re giving the award to the Negro Leagues Storylines in MLB The Show 23.
Other top contenders for this award were more cross-platform play functionality among various games (including finally getting some roster sharing features), EA Sports PGA Tour returning, and more current-gen sports games coming to PC (and thus unlocking more modding communities). If NBA 2K had not taken a step back on PC, I do think we probably would have gone with the PC finally feeling like a great alternative across the board for sports gamers, but that’s a point to make on another day.
We gave the award in 2022 to NBA 2K’s MyEras mode, and while we don’t think the Storylines mode in MLB The Show 23 did near as much as the MyEras mode, the history lessons and general charisma of Negro Leagues Baseball Museum President Bob Kendrick still helped carry this feature.
While light on interesting gameplay elements — Storylines is just tacked on to the Moments feature — the presentation, long-term potential, and ability to use these players in Diamond Dynasty did enough to create a mode everyone should check out at least once. There is not much to go back to once you’ve gone through the Storylines, but it’s something that a fan of baseball will truly appreciate, and it’s something that new fans might know nothing about.
Baseball has a long history and that comes along with the ups and downs of the history of the US, and so while Major League Baseball has done a great job commemorating Jackie Robinson, it has not always done the same for the Negro Leagues. This has started to change in recent years, and getting the Storylines mode into MLB The Show 23 is another way to surface that part of baseball’s history.
We also know this was just year one for the Storylines mode, and so we can only hope that it will continue to be fleshed out and hopefully expanded in MLB The Show 24.
Among the community it was a very tight vote between EA Sports PGA Tour returning, cross-platform flexibility, and Negro Leagues coming to MLB The Show 23 (all got between 25-30 percent), but the cross-platform play flexibility did win out.
I think this ultimately makes sense as it impacts almost everyone in one way or another. If you’re not interested in playing with friends on other platforms, we also obviously have a huge roster sharing and file sharing community and so that aspect of things also matters here as NBA 2K added the ability to swap certain files between consoles as well.
We are still waiting for year-to-year saves and roster sharing (MLB The Show losing that years ago still hurts a lot), plus we still need every major sports game to do roster sharing across consoles (at the very least), but it was a step in the right direction for sports games in 2023.