In this Aug. 16, 2011 photo, Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander throws a warm up pitch against the Minnesota Twins during a baseball game in Detroit. Verlander is the cover athlete for 2K game’s Major League Baseball 2K12. (Paul Sancya/AP)

2K Games is bringing back the million-dollar challenge this year in conjunction with MLB 2K12 — but with a twist. For the past few years, the company has awarded a cool million to the first player who pitches a perfect game — where there are no hits and no one gets on base — in its annual Major League Baseball title.

This year, the company is kicking that contest up a notch, letting gamers submit their perfect games and ranking them to find eight finalists that will compete in a live New York tournament for the $1 million grand prize. Players can submit their perfect games by inputting a code at a Web site set up by 2K Sports, where they’ll be analyzed and ranked based on difficulty and other factors such as player ranking, said 2K Sports’s head of marketing Jason Argent.

Cy Young award winner and American League MVP Justin Verlander, who graces this year’s game cover, announced the contest in an appearance on “Conan” on Wednesday night.

In an interview with The Washington Post, Verlander said that he’s been busy filming promotions for the game and its upcoming contest, which starts on the season’s opening day, April 4. He’s also been working with the development team to make the game’s playing experience as a pitcher mirror the real deal a bit more accurately.

Pitching in the game is done by using the sticks on the controller — a feature that Verlander likes.

“You have to have a good feel for what you’re doing,” he said, adding that the mechanics make it feel more like pitching on a mound. “In real life it’s not as easy as pushing a button.”

Verlander also gave the game’s developers insight into how he thinks during the game.

“Pitching in a real game, I recall things. I remember if a batter hit well or not,” he said. “The next time I face him I think about whether I want to repeat what I did last time or change. That’s incorporated into the game this year.”

The top eight players who master the pitching mechanics will be given the chance to join 2K’s Perfect Club after the game comes out March 6.

“Maybe if I pitch a perfect game in real life, I can become a club member, too,” Verlander joked.

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