For a video game franchise that hasn't seen a new release in 20 years, R.B.I. Baseball has proven to have quite a following.
MLB Advanced Media has announced that it will be bringing back the beloved baseball video game, which was a popular hit on Nintendo console systems back when Nolan Ryan, Darryl Strawberry and Wade Boggs were big league stars.
The announcement was met with near universal acclaim, even though there are few details yet as to what the game will be like. The details are sparse, but Major League Baseball's technological wing will be filling a void created by the death of the MLB 2K series with a new baseball video game that will be released both on consoles and mobile devices this spring.
While Sony's MLB The Show has continued to be developed for PlayStation 3 customers and will be available in a new version for PS3, PS4 and PS Vita customers this spring, the competing MLB 2K series for the Microsoft XBox consoles has been cancelled after a haphazard release last year that was a roster update but nothing more.
With the prospect for no baseball game on Xbox 360 and Xbox One, MLBAM will instead produce its own. R.B.I. Baseball will be released for consoles, tablets and phones. MLBAM has not specified if it will be released for both PlayStation and XBox devices, although in the past, MLBAM's products, whether it's MLB.tv or mobile games, have been released to as many platforms as possible.
There are still plenty of questions left to be answered. The original R.B.I. Baseball was noteworthy because it was the first console video game to have an MLBPA licensing agreement that allowed it to use real players. But the gameplay itself, both in the original R.B.I. Baseball and the final version released in 1995, was much more arcade-play than dedicated simulation. It will be interesting to see if the MLBAM attempts to recreate the realism that has driven MLB The Show, or if it will aim at being a less-realistic, more accessible game.
The initial reaction has been very favorable. Less than 24 hours after the announcement, the @RBIGame Twitter stream already has more than 4,000 followers.