The reason MLB The Show 21 will be free on Xbox Game Pass at launch

Sony Interactive Entertainment
Sony Interactive Entertainment /

I feel like I say this every month, but there is no deal better in the entire gaming industry than Xbox Game Pass. For a relatively affordable monthly price, subscribers are granted access to a large library of games that includes every Xbox Games Studio title at launch.

Lately, though, Xbox Game Pass has been even more impressive by including launch titles from other publishers. This week, Xbox Game Pass subscribers got Outriders for free at launch. And now, it was just announced that they’ll also be getting MLB The Show 21.

I can’t even begin to state how big of a deal this is. MLB The Show 21 — formerly a PlayStation exclusive title — will be free on Xbox for those who are Xbox Game Pass subscribers at launch. This is the premier baseball video game series, and it’s about to be free on Sony’s rival platform. Meanwhile, you’ll be spending $69.99 to play this year’s game on PlayStation 5 ($59.99 on PS4).

Now some of you might be thinking why would Sony ever agree to do this? Why give Xbox the competitive advantage of a game that was developed by its own in-house studio in Sony San Diego. As it turns out, Sony may not have had much control over the situation.

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It was recently revealed that the MLB, not Sony, is publishing MLB The Show 21 on Xbox. With MLB handling publishing on Xbox (and perhaps any consoles in the future), perhaps they are more flexible with how to treat the game’s launch. Maybe they felt getting MLB The Show 21 in front of as many people as possible was more important to grow the sport than the money they’d receive from actual sales of the game on Xbox. Or maybe Microsoft forked over a ton of money.

We don’t know the exact details behind the deal or what sort of agreement was initially reached back in December when the multiyear extension was announced between MLBPA, Sony and Sony San Diego that ultimately led to the franchise expanding beyond PlayStation platforms. All I know is MLB The Show 21 will cost $70 on PlayStation 5 and will essentially be free on Xbox Series X|S.

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MLB The Show 21 is slated to launch on April 20. It will be available for Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One as well as Android phones and tablets via Xbox Cloud Gaming (Beta) for Ultimate members. Both the Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One Standard Editions are included with Xbox Game Pass.