On Monday, Take-Two Interactive Software announced it has signed a long-term licensing agreement with Major League Baseball Properties, the Major League Baseball Players Association, and Major League Baseball Advanced Media.
The move is designed as a direct hit against Electronic Arts, which recently locked up deals with the National Football League and ESPN.
For additional details on the baseball alliance, CNET's GameSpot.com spoke with Take-Two's President Paul Eibeler over the weekend.
Q: It's hard not to view the divvying up of sports and sports-related licenses over the past few weeks without thinking about it in terms of a huge rivalry between the two publishing heavyweights, Take-Two and Electronic Arts. Would you concur that that's an accurate filter?
A: I think it's a great compliment to us because a year ago we weren't in sports.
How much of what Take-Two does, strategically, is driven by the competition, and specifically, EA?
Well, it's driven by a competitive marketplace, and EA is one part of that competitive marketplace--certainly a big part and a very big part in sports. We're finding the marketplace very competitive, but we're also finding a lot of opportunities, given our size, our marketing muscle, and our distribution strength, to get more opportunities.
Your move into sports is fairly dramatic. What's behind that?
It's just part of our diversification program, or plan. We have some really big brands in the Rockstar (Games) area, and we're looking to complement those plans with some products with 2K Games, which will encompass 2K Sports.
A lot of people don't see a huge upside in the area of baseball when they look at sports. What sort of potential do you see with baseball?
I probably disagree with you; there were a lot of companies in the (baseball) marketplace in the past, so they all thought there was a great market; it is the American pastime.
You mention you intend to release baseball products throughout the year.
The one thing that's hard to change is that the start of the season is in the spring. So we view it as an opportunity to try and find ways, from a marketing standpoint, to expand the season. Certainly in October there's a lot of excitement about baseball, and it doesn't have to drop off. We also think with online connectivity, baseball has a lot of