SBJ/April 27 - May 3, 1998/No Topic Name

Cyber GMs have it plenty tough

As a 12-year old boy, Clay Dreslough designed a computer game that would replicate the on-field action of an entire baseball season, tracking home runs, RBIs, strikeouts – all the numbers craved by the smart kids on the block.

But bigger boys need bigger toys.

So shortly after Dreslough chugged into manhood and began to work on game making for a living, he hatched Baseball Mogul, a game for IBM-compatible computers that, in the words of distributor Wizard Works, puts players "in the leather armchair of your favorite professional baseball team."

Tony LaRussa’s Baseball, developed by Stormfront Studios and published by Maxis, may let you manage your team to the World Series, but it won’t let you sink it by signing a lousy TV deal, over-spending for Gregg Jefferies or scrimping on your scouting budget.

Baseball Mogul does.

"It was a fairly logical progression," said Dreslough, who worked as a designer on the LaRussa game and then with Microsoft before launching the first version of Baseball Mogul, produced independently under the Infinite Monkey Systems label last year. "You hear about a $10 million-a-year contract and you immediately have to wonder where all the money is coming from. Or where it goes. In this game, you find out."

Tim Wood, the New York Yankees’ director of publications, used savvy scouting to build the Kansas City Royals into a team that contended for three seasons. But then the constraints of the Kansas City market strangled him.

"All of a sudden, all my prospects got big and asked for $40 million contracts," said Wood, who has seen Baseball Mogul become popular in the Yankees’ organization. "It’s insane how realistic this game is."

Thanks mostly to work of mouth and a few glowing reviews that have shown up on the Internet; the first version of Baseball Mogul sold about 2,000 copies, Dreslough said. With software distributor Wizard Works aboard and ads running in Baseball Weekly, he figures this year’s version will move better.

Industry figures clearly point toward potential. Personal computer games generated $1.3 billion in revenue in the United States last year, according to PC Data Inc, a Reston, VA, company that tracks industry sales. Sports games accounted for $114.5 million of that revenue, with baseball games pulling in $9.9 million.


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