SBJ/March 4-10, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

For MLBAM this season, it’s game on

MLB Advanced Media is readying a significant push into gaming for the 2013 season, seeking to broaden both its audience and digital traffic patterns.

"Ballpark Empire" is a baseball-centric take on "Farmville"-style participation games.
MLBAM
Several new online and mobile games either have recently debuted or are due for release in the coming weeks as the start of the season approaches. Among the new titles are “Ballpark Empire,” sort of a baseball-themed take on the hugely popular Facebook game “Farmville”; two home run hitting games, “Home Run Derby” and “Slam City”; as well as an expansion of an effort with predictive mobile gaming outfit PrePlay that was tested at the end of last season.

The new games join “Beat the Streak,” a stalwart daily fantasy game for MLBAM since 2001 that has yet to see anyone select an MLB player to get a hit for 57 consecutive days and beat Joe DiMaggio’s real-world record hitting streak. “Beat the Streak” prizes have grown as large as $5.6 million, yet still have gone unclaimed.

MLBAM executives said the increased emphasis on gaming arrives after encouraging early returns for efforts such as last year’s test with PrePlay. Additionally, the suite of baseball-themed casual games, less complex than detailed simulation games, will likely encourage site traffic during dayparts when MLB games aren’t happening, and represents yet another tool to seek out new fans.

Games like "Home Run Derby" are designed to encourage site traffic when MLB teams aren't playing.
MLBAM
“We’ve obviously seen, like everybody else, how much gaming has grown in importance, particularly in the mobile and social realms, and what we’re doing now is our biggest effort to date in this area,” said Bob Bowman, MLBAM president and chief executive. “We think there are some interesting places where we can take the league marks and engage with fans in different ways.”

The new games will carry a variety of revenue models, ranging from completely ad-supported to others based on microtransactions, in which users pay nominal fees for upgraded elements in the games. Some will have presenting sponsors, such as the relationship between “Beat the Streak” and league partner Scotts.

The new gaming initiatives add to MLB.com’s existing efforts in fantasy baseball, such as its partnership with CBSSports.com for commissioner-style games.



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