For whatever reason, one of the topics that comes up with MLB The Show more than other sports games is when SDS will abandon last-gen consoles.
MLB The Show 24 being on last-gen consoles is bad news in some people’s minds, and I want to argue for those people (just like I argued for those who think last-gen consoles continuing to get support is good). The argument here is relatively straight forward and starts and ends with stagnation.
MLB The Show 24 Being On Last-Gen Consoles Is Bad
Stagnation can come in many forms, and the argument goes beyond stagnation, but the reality is this is the longest any console generation has lasted, and it’s only growing by the day. We will be on year 11 of MLB The Show being on PS4 with ’24, which beats out the nine years on PS3, and the nine years it was on PS2.
I’ll get to the stagnation point in more detail in a moment, but I first want to call out the idea of dilution. Going 11 years in technology is a lifetime a lot of the time, but if we think about MLB 14: The Show vs. MLB The Show 24, does it feel as long? And if it doesn’t feel that long, then what does that say about the generations themselves.
Going from the PS1 to the PS2 felt big. Going from the PS2 to the PS3 felt big. Going from the PS3 to the PS4 felt…meh? And then going from the PS4 to PS5 has felt…bleh? It’s not that there haven’t been great games throughout each generation, it’s more that it’s hard to separate the generations as easily. That probably goes back to graphics as nothing is really going to compare to when we went from standard-def on PS2 to high-def on PS3. Still, you should be able to separate the console generations in your mind, yet it’s gotten muddier with each passing generation.
I don’t think this is going to change completely because video games have sort of hit a point where graphics are no longer the driving force behind each console generation, but the games have to be able to stand out, and it’s harder to stand out when they can’t take advantage of the power that exists on these consoles.
This leads back to the idea of stagnation. Tethering the PS5 and Xbox Series X to last-gen consoles has to be holding it back in multiple ways. Releasing on extra platforms adds to the workload for the devs, and it also probably leads to the developers scaling back on features because they have to worry about how it works in all the ecosystems. Who knows what’s being left on the table right now when it comes to franchise mode or Road to the Show because the old-gen consoles can’t support those concepts?
It also does have to hurt the aforementioned graphics. Even if graphics are not the driving force anymore, one of the biggest “pet peeves” that is called out in The Show relates to the dirt, grass, and textures. They look flat. They look old. They look last-gen while other aspects of the player models continue to drive forward. I really like the color palette in The Show, and it helps to hide some of the issues, but it’s hard to look past some of the small things that should help to create a good looking baseball game. At the end of the day, graphics are the first thing most people are going to notice, and hamstringing them in any way can’t be great for the long-term appeal of your game.
Lastly, if one of the big selling points of keeping all these old consoles around is connectivity, then where are our year-to-year saves? When MLB The Show 21 came around (and thus the start of the PS5/Xbox Series X generation started), a beloved feature was lost. Did we just lose it because franchise mode itself had to be restructured, or because cross-generation play made it untenable? It doesn’t really matter because the perception is what takes over, and in this case it simply feels like something cool was lost in an effort to connect more generations.
But if the reason we buy the latest and greatest is to play the latest and greatest, shouldn’t we get, well, the latest and greatest? Or if the whole idea is to keep all of us connected, then shouldn’t you keep around features that keep us wanting to play the same franchise for years and years and ignore other cooler things simply because we have such a bond with a specific team in franchise mode?
Instead, it feels like SDS is being held back to some degree, and we’re not getting the full benefits of either “ideal” world since we lost something like year-to-year saves that helped keep last-gen fresh, and yet we’re not being blown away by graphics and features on current-gen consoles either.
While SDS has likely had this cross-generation/last-generation concept forced upon them by console makers and MLB, it’s time to let SDS kill off last-gen MLB The Show.