MLB The Show 24’s Content Conundrum

April 9, 2024 by Cory Dell

Diamond Dynasty, Gameplay, MLB The Show 24

It feels like yesterday I was wrapping up a busy stretch at my day job, counting down the minutes to midnight for MLB The Show 24’s early access launch. My routine consisted of stocking up on coffee and snacks, power napping until midnight and then staying up as long as I physically could to get the grind started.

I’m not alone. For many of us, our love of MLB The Show and Diamond Dynasty is purely an extension of our baseball fandom. Video games have become ingrained not only in pop culture, but I’d argue in culture as a whole. Whether you’re a content creator who’s livelihood is predicated on pumping out content daily, an otherwise hardcore player that grinds every waking second you can or someone like me with limited time; we’re all affected by The Show’s gameplay and content structure.

Entering 2023, gameplay was easily the biggest communal complaint. A lot of opinions centered around the disappointment that gameplay was sullying otherwise excellent content. The Inning Programs of old required players to make a choice on a Boss player each program, but that also hampered lineup diversity to a degree. We got a revamped program structure in 2022 with plenty of programs offering plenty of cards and increased lineup diversity, yet gameplay remained a nuisance.

That all changed in 2023. MLB The Show 23 finally brought online gameplay to the forefront with considerable changes and tunings that brought baseball to life on our screens. A true balance was brought and it finally felt like stick skills mattered more than the organic RNG that video games and baseball share. Sure, there were still bloop hits and plays that felt bad. That was ok because after all – That’s Baseball™. The argument was never a matter of realism, more an argument of balance and it was finally addressed.

For the most part, content remained strong enough but the cracks had been there for years. With gameplay dragging down the experience for many and being the main discussion, content was always the prettier flower. With gameplay finding a new balance, content suddenly found itself in the crosshairs.

Captains were introduced and sounded like an amazing edition that would finally bring theme teams to The Show. However, Captains had no clear balancing or clear direction – only a cool premise. With the implementation of Sets and Seasons, all the free cards that we earned in the deluge of programs never amounted to more than inventory fodder. As cards were branded by Season, they would rotate out each season and seismically change the structure of any theme team you bothered to cobble together. This caused the year to feel flat as it was hard to get excited about cards knowing we couldn’t truly build the theme teams we wanted.

We’re about a month into MLB The Show 24’s content cycle. Despite revamped Captains that are a blast, a streamlined Seasons structure and return of power creep – the game feels flat yet again.


Ya’ll Got Some of Them Packs?

MLB The Show has long held the title of “best no money spent” sports game. Where other titles are relentless in their pursuit of your dollars, SDS and MLB The Show have always offered up plenty of free packs and cards. Some of the best cards released in a game’s cycle have often been free cards you could earn simply by completing a program. On the other hand, there’s always been a distinct lack of premium packs that limited some of the “excitement” there is in cracking packs – even virtually. Whether any of us like to admit it or not, opening packs is a blast and the excitement of diamond hunting is a national pastime. Therein lies the challenge for developers like SDS who need to strike a balance.

Before this year, almost every themed premium pack had an associated program with it. We’d often get lower-rated cards in that card series, Stubs and other rewards before ultimately earning a free pack of that new set. While I loathed the grind structure of many of these programs that forced us to use trash cards, the payoff typically made it worth it.

The change in Captains this year could have made these program cards more exciting. You can truly build theme teams this year with Captains becoming Core cards. I suggested last year as well, but how cool would it be if a program’s “Boss” card boosted all cards in that program or card series? Imagine last year if the Race of 98′ Mark McGwire boosted all cards in that program and card series? MLB The Show might be a baseball video game, but the entire card collecting side of it is essentially similar to card games like Magic: The Gathering. We see starter decks in collectible card games all the time. They might not be meta or the best, but you often get a couple very good cards in the deck and when used together – you can compete to some degree. Programs in Diamond Dynasty should be utilized the same way, with the ultimate reward being a crack at the best rare cards in the featured card set and the consolation being free cards that have a purpose.

We’ve gotten plenty of packs this year, but no programs accompanying them. The Spring Breakout program that launched with the game was excellent and provided some amazing early game cards. We got two different Spring Breakout Choice Packs in the Show Shop but not in the program. Not only that, but we haven’t seen any of the premium packs trickle into Conquest maps or elsewhere in the game to earn.

Even the typically fan-favorite Monthly Awards program has been torn apart and restructured. Now complete with premium packs you can buy! I don’t have a problem with SDS putting these packs in the store, but this about-face in regards to premium packs is concerning.

Is this a sign that The Show is becoming one-of-them? Will the best cards always be locked behind dollar signs now? Are we overreacting a month into the game’s cycle? Can you see why kids love the taste of Cinnamon Toast Crunch?

There’s plenty of rightful questions to be asked concerning content this year. As of yet, we haven’t gotten any answers.

Modus Operandi

Another crack that’s long been visible that’s now a full-blown fissure is the lack of game modes across Diamond Dynasty. There’s literally only one true head-to-head mode in Diamond Dynasty and that’s Ranked. The structure for Ranked hasn’t changed since the Anunnaki left Earth, yet we’re expected to be excited for it every year. Co-Op was introduced but is also hilariously broken, bugged and flat-out unplayable at times. Events shifted to a firm two-week window, which is great for people like me, yet it’s still a lackluster version of something we all truly want. Battle Royale is a niche mode with plenty of positive elements, but the whole point of the mode is not using the team you’ve built across the mode.

Where’s the Weekend League? Events are clearly geared as a casual online playlist that everyone can enjoy, but where’s the beef? Let’s get creative, folks. Whether it’s a weekly Weekend League, or bi-weekly like Events or monthly; give us something with some real stakes. I love that every player can essentially acquire every card released. A weekend league could offer rewards not found across the rest of Diamond Dynasty. We could get cards that are exclusive to weekend league that might not be superpowered or overpowered relative to the rest, but something unique and just as good. Hell, at this point I’d be willing to pay for animated card art or borders. Including something like that on exclusive weekend league rewards would be enticing for a lot of players. Most of all, it would be new.

I wrote long ago about why I think The Show needs a true Competitive Ranked mode. I refer to that article every year because every year we get the same boring palate of game modes.

I’m sorry, but Ranked just isn’t exciting enough to prop up as the “premier destination” within Diamond Dynasty. We have Captains and they’re calibrated well this year, but there’s still no dedicated theme team or Captain mode. You could easily make an offline mode with each MLB team having a Captained build with relevant rewards and an online playlist that requires Captains to be used. At this point, the structure of online content and game modes is archaic. Again, I love that pretty much anyone can earn the Ranked rewards which means they aren’t prohibitively expensive but it also kind of makes Ranked a waste of time. Yes, you’re playing a game by choice online against someone but there’s no real stakes. The fact that there are still plenty of players that will make World Series and simply stop playing the mode until the next season speaks volumes about the balance. Once you accomplish that, your only real venture is grinding Mini-Seasons or Battle Royale. Which means your options are not playing against other humans or not using the team you spend money and time on.

Where Do We Go From Here?

SDS has plenty of time to shake things up. The honeymoon phase has evaporated and the clear outline of the year ahead is staring us in the face. In that same breath, perhaps it’s unfair to get too judgmental since we’re still relatively early in the cycle. That would also require us ignoring that SDS doesn’t really pivot much and once a content template is set for the year; that’s what we get.

More tangible rewards across new game modes. That’s all we need. We need to get away from the “Ranked or bust” expectation. The fact that we can’t even reliably play Co-Op Ranked because the mode is broken has become a meme, but it’s truly shocking that it barely works and is considered one of the few options to play online.

Keep the premium packs coming, but make sure the balance that has made Diamond Dynasty so fun doesn’t dissipate. Give us programs with fun, relatively quick grinds that give us a pack to rip. Give us a true weekend league. Give us a true competitive Ranked mode and give us a Captain-only mode and dig into the massive history of MLB teams to make it a unique mode.

New modes won’t come this year. It’s on the eternal wish list as it has been for the last several years. For now, don’t wash out all the goodwill that’s been earned by becoming grin wearin’, pack sellin’, dollar stealin’, wheelin’ dealin’, corpo talkin’, jet flyin’ sons of EA. WOOOO!

What? WrestleMania 40 was amazing and reignited my love of professional wrestling. Sorry, not sorry.

I digress. I think it’s important that we keep our voices heard so SDS hears us. They do listen and they’ve shown that. I think it’s also important that we acknowledge the positive so far this year.

The game has been a blast. The gameplay is still solid on both sides of the ball and all the things we love about Diamond Dynasty are still there for the most part.

But there’s some scary writing on the wall. Let’s hope it doesn’t spell disaster for us at Sacrifice.

About the Guest Author

Cory Dell

Cory is a freelance writer that currently features for Operation Sports and ShowZone and has dabbled in streaming from time to time. Cory has been a diehard Atlanta Braves fan since birth and has tortured neighbors and family alike with avid guitar playing for the last twenty years.

This post was submitted by a guest author. If you would like to be featured as a guest author on ShowZone, reach out to us at with your ideas.

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