Interview

$340 million and counting: How MLB Tap Sports Baseball is still growing strong

Every baseball season offers new opportunities

$340 million and counting: How MLB Tap Sports Baseball is still growing strong

The process of creating a game is difficult, long, and stressful.

No matter the size of the game or how long it ultimately takes to make, each new title involves a lot of hard work, tough decisions, and a little bit of luck before it even gets out the door and onto devices.

And that's only the first step to making the title succeed.

To highlight the extensive work that goes unseen in the background, PocketGamer.biz is reaching out to developers to learn more about the process of releasing a video game, with our 'Making Of' series.

This week, we spoke with Glu Mobile vice president and general manager Brent Stephenson about the latest entry in the MLB Tap Sports Baseball series.

PocketGamer.biz: Can you start off by telling us about MLB Tap Sports Baseball 2021?

Brent Stephenson: MLB Tap Sports Baseball 2021 is a free-to-play baseball mobile game that delivers a social-competitive experience and allows players to strategically manage their own baseball teams.

In partnership with Major League Baseball, the Major League Baseball Players Association, the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association, and outfielders Ronald Acuña Jr. and Juan Soto, players compete in events that mirror the real events of the major leagues.

Where did the initial idea for the game come from?

In 2014 we launched the first iteration of the game, focused on reaching casual and hardcore baseball fans alike.

The two biggest challenges were developing and releasing the game while our teams were entirely remote.
Brent Stephenson

We saw a gap in the marketplace for a mobile baseball game with one-touch controls and turn-based gameplay, so we decided to apply our deep learnings in mobile game development alongside a partnership with the MLB Players.

How long did development take?

Each year our team releases the latest iteration in the Tap Sports Baseball franchise that includes the team logos, players from all 30 MLB teams and each of the MLB ballparks.

The Tap Sports team is a really fun place to work. Many of us share the dual loves of games and sports of all kinds - especially baseball. We have a good time keeping up with the latest trade rumours, sporting news, fantasy sports, and all types of video games.

We’ve been working remotely for the past year but before that, we would almost always have live baseball games or other sporting events running on the televisions in the office, which made it easy to catch great plays and make some fun events out of the happenings in the MLB.

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome during development?

The two biggest challenges were developing and releasing the game while our teams were entirely remote and nailing the realistic feeling of experiencing the 2021 baseball season.

We work closely with the MLB, MLB Players Association, and the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association to create authentic ballparks and life-like players.

Our TSB community is incredibly passionate about the game and we set a high bar for ourselves to bring the season to life in the game.

Who do you find to be the game's main audience? 

Correct, baseball is primarily enjoyed by audiences in the US, it’s not surprising that most of our core players are based in the US.

However, we also see passionate fans play from all over the world.

How do you combat yearly fatigue?

Every baseball season offers new opportunities to create realistic experiences that mimic the real major leagues.

For this year, we’re featuring new cover athletes by teaming up with Washington Nationals outfielder and World Series champion Juan Soto and Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr.

The MLB Tap Sports Baseball franchise boasts over 45 million downloads and counting.
Brent Stephenson

In the baseball off-season, our players love to beef up their roster with the all-time greatest baseball figures that have made an impact in the sport over the last 100 plus years.

Has the Covid-19 pandemic impacted ongoing development?

Despite the shortened baseball season in 2020, both MLB TSB 2020 and now 2021 have not been impacted on the development side.

Our team is fortunate enough to work remotely and hold daily team check-ins. Plus, we’re all big baseball fans ourselves and love to swap stories and stay up-to-date on the latest baseball player trades.

What can you tell us about your plans in terms of updates?

Right now, I’m super excited about the new game modes and social features we’ve launched. New features allow players to pitch and join new Club Rally events to team up with friends.

Can you provide any download or financial data?

In 2020, the Tap Sports Baseball franchise surpassed $340 million of lifetime bookings.

The MLB Tap Sports Baseball franchise boasts over 45 million downloads and counting.

What can you tell us about your future projects?

We’re excited to deliver the best possible Tap Sports Baseball experience for years to come.

We are always looking for ways for our players to add even more customisation to help manage their rosters and incorporate MLB events that are happening in real-time.


Deputy Editor

Matthew Forde is the deputy editor at PocketGamer.biz and also a member of the Pocket Gamer Podcast. You can find him on Twitter @MattForde64 talking about stats, data and everything pop culture related - particularly superheroes.

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