Sega Moves Into Social Games With SEGA Play! Baseball on Facebook

Sega is the most recent traditional game developer to move into the social space with the official release of its Facebook title, SEGA Play! Baseball. A sports simulation game of highly cartoonish characters, the game has close to 68,000 monthly active users and near 18,000 daily active users around a week after launch.

Centered around team management, SEGA Play! Baseball changes things up by placing players into virtual seasons, resting a large amount of player data each cycle. Whether or not this will hinder the long term growth of the game is unclear, but other than this, the game doesn’t feel all that particularly fresh, and even consists of some arbitrarily implemented mechanics such as its virtual space decoration.

As with virtually all sports manager type games, the object here is for players to build up their sports team and climb the leaderboards to win an entire season in the Pro Leagues. That said, these leagues don’t open up until level ten, thus a new player will have some time to practice before getting in to such.

Upon starting up the game, players are tasked with customizing (though this is fairly limited) their own avatar and adjusting their player stats based on their position, such as outfielder, and their play style of offensive, defensive, or agile. Depending on the choice, the skills of Contact, Power, Speed, Fielding, and Clutch will be augmented. Once created, players can then drag and drop players into the field positions they desire, as well as rearrange the batting order and pitching rotation.

Unfortunately, while some of the stats are self-explanatory (e.g. Fielding), it is often unclear as to which position benefits most from particular statistics. This leads to assumptions being made that might not always be correct. For example, Power seems like it would affect batting, thus high Power players should be early in the batting order, but does this also affect pitching?

In fact, pitchers come with a whole other set of stats. Along with Power and Clutch (we have no idea what that does), there is also Energy, Stamina, and Control. Again, logic can give a good idea what these do, but never is it clearly stated. Since sports managers are all about strategically allocating stats and players, it is crucial to make educated choices rather than leaving it to trial and error.

To simplify things, players can’t actually improve the stats of their generic, non-player teammates. This is where Sega is pushing the social play amongst friends. As users level up, they can add more and more friends that play, to their team, upgrading all of the above noted stats as they see fit. What is curious, is that training is purchased, but what type it is appears to be random.

Each player can upgrade any of the stats, with one catch. The training of that stat must be available for purchase. Initially, only two randomly selected stats will be available to train. In order to train a stat the player wants, these must first be purchased so a new one is randomly selected. As users level up, more slots for training purchases unlock. As an example, rather than two random stats available for training, three will be. Basically, this means that players only have a chance to purchase training in the stats they want, and unlocking more purchase slots only increases the chances of getting it.

As one might expect, stats affect how well the team performs in the automated games, which are played against other random users. At first, users can only play five exhibition games (with the number of plays slowly recharging), but as they level, more game modes will unlock. Well, that’s the theory anyway. At level five, we unlocked a “special game mode,” yet can find no way to access it.