With all due respect to Plaay.com and the announcement that Plaay Soccer (game title still unknown) is being playtested and could be released as soon as Spring 2014, the biggest news to come out of a game company newsletter this week is the announcement that APBA Baseball Online version 1 has launched.
APBA Online is now up and running. Congrats to JerseyJones for being the first paying APBA Online customer. #PlayBall
— APBA Online (@APBA_Online) November 19, 2013
This is a huge announcement for APBA. APBA’s PC game, Baseball for Windows, has lagged behind even the notoriously slow-to-evolve class of PC versions of tabletop-sports games. Baseball for Windows (version 5) was released last century, and it wasn’t until 2012 that a version update (v5.75) was deployed. Historically, APBA has not exactly been on the cutting edge of gaming technology. The newest owner, John Herson, has worked to change that perception.
Beside the roll-out of BBW 5.75, in the last couple of years APBA has also moved to a Print-On-Demand model that has allowed the company to offer any of 103 baseball seasons available to order. They’ve released a new game (APBA Soccer). They’ve initiated a social media presence. And now, they’ve taken the baseball game (at least for league players) online. In an unpublished interview I did with John back in early 2012 he indicated that other online APBA games may be in the works, too.
This full-on embrace of new technology and innovation is a sea-change for APBA. The founder of the company, Dick Seitz, was notoriously resistant to change.
Traditionalists maintain his legacy, citing the APBA brand as a 60 year-old entity that should not sever the link to its past. Others will applaud the company – so close to folding just a generation ago – for moving forward in a new marketplace. APBA Online is a product that will appeal to many PC gamers, a segment of the tabletop-sports market that many believe will inevitably eclipse the card & dice crowd if it hasn’t already.
Thomas Nelshoppen of The APBA Blog offers his perspective of the product:
I think a lot of APBA Baseball fans, especially the BBW players will be excited about this.
It seems that the APBA Company has gone through the trouble of putting some helpful tutorials on YouTube which will be useful (and probably save some headaches). When version 1.0 of any product comes out, there are bound to be bugs especially when it comes to an interactive piece of software so I encourage everyone to be patient when they’ll eventually get resolved.
Going solely by the screenshots, it looks professional and well-made. It’s hard to tell if it will perform without playing it, of course but it seems to have the necessary features… interactive leagues, ability to trade, comprehensive stats. It looks snazzy.
This may be the thing for the BBW player who wishes to play online as long as they’re willing to pay for the tokens to join an online league. Might beat paying for gas. Personally, I’m just as happy with the Basic Game. I like the feel of cards and dice in my hand. That said, I invested in APBA Baseball 5.75 when it came out so I’ll have to give APBA Online a try.
But the question remains, has the company spread itself too thin with its line of product offerings?
As of this writing (11-21-13) the 2012 APBA Football card set STILL has not been released. We’re 10 weeks into the 2013 NFL season. There were similar delays with the APBA Soccer sets, as the 2012-13 Barclay’s Premier League season was in its final few weeks before 2011-12 cards were made available. I couldn’t speculate on the reaction of APBA gamers if a new baseball season should ever suffer a delayed release in this manner, but it’s safe to say that the reaction wouldn’t be favorable.
APBA Online isn’t just a new product, it’s emblematic of a new way of thinking at the APBA Game Co. Hopefully, the product is a hit with BBW users and APBA leagues in general.
The specter of Dick Seitz and his legacy loomed over APBA before its move from Lancaster, PA to Alpharetta, GA. APBA Online is about as far from Pennsylvania Amish country as one can get. Maybe the ghost of Dick Seitz has finally been left behind.
Full text of the APBA Online email announcement is below.
Visit us at http://www.apbabaseball.com.
The online Version 1 (v1) will allow users to create, organize, and manage multi-user leagues all in the comfort of one website. v1 is an extension of BBW 5.75.
What to expect with v1:
Note: we have lofty expectations for online baseball but recognize we need to start somewhere. The product is still young in its life cycle so we expect some growing pains along the way. We are committed to improve and maximize the products’ potential.
What to expect in 2014:
Lots of stuff but the headlines are an online version of Play Ball (YES – finally an easy way for remote peer to peer play) and a new and improved Lineup Manager.
We will also be aligning the master board game rules with the online play ball rules as well as add some features for our APBA basic game users and board game users in general.
We hope you check out the site, give it a try and be part of the beginning of the APBA Baseball online era.
The APBA Baseball Online team
Emmanuel N. Florakas