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Open Source Breathes New Life Into ‘MVP Baseball 2005’ Video Game

In 2005, a licensing deal between Major League Baseball (MLB) and Take-Two Interactive, a rival developer of EA Sports, permanently disenfranchised EA Sports from leveraging MLB related assets in its products. EA Sports’ “MVP Baseball 2005” became the last official title in the company’s 2K video game series. The game received glowing reviews at the time of its release. However, it was off the market for good, since Take-Two Interactive had the gaming rights from the MLB. Yet, “MVP Baseball 2015” for the PC lived on, and has remained one of the top baseball video games, even with no involvement from EA Sports.

How is it possible that the video game EA Sports created lived on after the company lost the deal? The answer is, open source coding.

In short, open source coding enables a group of contributors to write changes to pre-existing code. These changes, or branches, are sent to the host or maintainer for review. In the unique case of “MVP Baseball 2005,” the community’s joint efforts are managed on a forum created by the dedicated contributors who choose to devote their time to updating all aspects of the game through open source code. Because EA Sports lost its license, the game is now malleable, as the code became open to the public for continued development.

This community of contributors divides responsibilities from a long list of intricate and complicated tasks. Some coders handle uniform design, some update roster changes, while others work on re-creating the ballpark layouts. Additional tasks include updating player faces and statistics, switching out the voices of announcers and, for some developers, creating new leagues entirely.

For instance, open source coders were able to create additions, such as “MVP Caribe,” to the original game. It offered a complete digital version of the real-life, Caribbean series; a tournament that features champions of the Cuban, Dominican, Mexican, Puerto Rican and Venezuelan leagues. Converting this famous baseball tournament into a popular function within “MVP Baseball 2005” was a massive undertaking rewarded by consumer appreciation.

The contributors who make this game possible include historians, developers and baseball enthusiasts—most of whom have never met but are still able to collaborate and contribute to the game from around the world. The open source environment makes it possible for anyone to work from anywhere, making changes to the code at whim (as long as the branches are approved by the maintainer first).

The utilization of open source coding has made it possible for “MVP Baseball 2005” to become, and remain, the best baseball video game on the market. Its continuation is a true testament to the creativity and dedication of the open source contributors.

What does this mean for future games? That can’t be answered, but “MVP Baseball 2005” certainly points toward a more interactive and engaging future for video games. 

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More Stories By Lacey Thoms

Lacey Thoms is a marketing specialist and blogger at Protecode, a provider of open source license management solutions. During her time at Protecode, Lacey has written many articles on open source software management. She has a background in marketing communications, digital advertising, and web design and development. Lacey has a Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communications from Carleton University.