It can be incredibly hard to introduce a new game mode to a sports title.
Even when the premise of the mode is something fans have wanted, getting the nuances right first time is almost impossible.
This is what SIE San Diego found when they introduced March To October last year.
The game mode allows players to take over their favorite franchise and play in key situations as they strive for a World Series title. While the idea is strong, the execution was somewhat lacking.
Things have changed for MLB The Show 20 though.
What has changed for this game mode in MLB The Show 20? And will it create the kind of quick-path to glory players want?
KING ME: You don't have to play every game to be the champ
With 162 games in the regular season, it can take forever to jump into Franchise Mode and play a full season. Of course, you can always sim games but not everyone wants to do that.
This is why March To October was born. Rather than taking months to play games and get to the playoffs, you can dive into this game mode and take over key situations.
You can make the playoffs, provided you win enough games, in 10-13 hours rather than months.
Improved reward opportunities
Last year, March To October gave you Team Affinity rewards if you won the World Series. But no title, no rewards.
This year it is a little different. It's less of an all-or-nothing game type.
There are five different reward opportunities, coming in the middle of the season and at the end. This gives you more chances to lock up rewards even if you can't manage to take the crown at the end of the season.
PICK YOUR POISON: Can you take a terrible team to the top?
This change is especially useful for new players.
The difficulty options are less rigid this year. There are beginner and dynamic difficulty options now.
Beginner is as it sounds. The easiest level for those that are brand new to The Show.
Dynamic will constantly assess your performance and adjust AI difficulty accordingly. If you pitch far better than you hit, then AI hitters will be tough but AI pitchers will go easy on you. This makes for a more fluid and rewarding game than the rigidity of rookie or all-star levels.
Momentum & high leverage situations
KEEP ON ROLLIN': Wins create momentum, but throw away a strong position and watch out
One of the teething problems March To October had was that a lot of the situations it throws you into just weren't that exciting.
7th inning, no one on, no one out, is not really a key moment.
That's why the leverage index was born.
This mechanic works in the background to identify moments in the game simulation that meet a key threshold of leverage, and thus importance.
That is when you will get thrown into the game. Sounds cool.
Call-ups, trades, & GM options
IMPROVEMENTS: Manage your team in key spots
March To October isn't just an in-game sim though.
You still have to manage your team, and once again key opportunities will arise where you need to make the call.
Bring up that elite prospect, let the league know you need a new left fielder, or tell them all to not bother offering for your ace.
You have the options at your fingertips, without needing to constantly make roster moves and manage the 40-man.