Tomb Raider Sequel to be Xbox One Exclusive
It wasn’t but a few months after release that Square Enix said that they were disappointed with the sales of Tomb Raider. That didn’t stop them from trying to cash in with a next-gen re-release and the announcement of a sequel at E3.
The latter wasn’t a case of Square Enix realizing the error of their analysis or their finance team being able to make budgets and projected revenues work out. It seems to be a case of Microsoft stepping in to make the money work as Rise of The Tomb Raider was announced to be an Xbox One exclusive.
While Rise of the Tomb Raider was announced during Microsoft’s press conference at E3, everyone assumed that it was going to be a multiplatform game like 2013’s Tomb Raider reboot was. After all, it’s not unusual for console manufacturers to get a little buzz with a special trailer or announcement for their press conferences. It turns out that we were all wrong.
In a post on the official Tomb Raider Tumblr, Crystal Dynamics boss Darrell Gallagher explained the studio’s reasoning for going Xbox One exclusive. The key phrase in it is Gallagher mentioning the “help, belief and backing of a major partner like Microsoft.” Many people in the industry are taking this as a none to subtle code for Microsoft chipped in a tonne of money to make this game happen and bought console exclusivity for Rise of the Tomb Raider.
I have so many issues with this that it could probably fill up its own stand alone column. For now, I’ll go with the Coles Notes version. It’s entirely possible that Square Enix could have cut back on RotTR if they couldn’t bring in the extra money. However, the biggest problem with Tomb Raider wasn’t the lack of profitability but that it wasn’t profitable enough for Square Enix. That’s a case of greed and a terrible projection model overcoming basic business sense. At the end of the day, if Square Enix could come up with something more profitable for Crystal Dynamics to do, we wouldn’t be talking about Rise of the Tomb Raider.
And while Crystal Dynamics are going to bear the brunt of criticism, it is Square Enix and Microsoft who should be criticized for harming gaming by taking a historic multiplatform franchise and making it Xbox One exclusive. It’s not fair to people on PC and PS4 who are Tomb Raider fans. It might be good for TR fans that they’re getting a second game in the reboot but they lose because they won’t be able to play it.
The third point is the hilarious irony of this. Tomb Raider 2013 wasn’t profitable enough for Square Enix as a multiplatform exclusive so they’re going to a platform that might have as few as half the consoles in gamer’s hands as the PlayStation 4. Sony says they’ve sold 10 million PS4s while Extreme Tech projects only 5 million Xbox Ones have been sold. It just makes no sense to limit the customer base. A lot of people like Tomb Raider and I thought TR2013 was a pretty good game (maybe an 8.0/10 on my scale) but I don’t think it’ll a big enough system seller to significantly close the gap to PS4, especially with Uncharted 4 as a likely superior alternative.
Of course, we’re talking about the evil of exclusives and its inherent anti-consumerness now but rumours started swirling last night that this is a timed exclusive. There’s too much money in going multiplatform for Square Enix to not leave themselves that option. I’m guessing Microsoft’s money came with the provision that no one could officially disclose that it’s a timed rather than full exclusive. I’d imagine that we’ll have to wait a few months after release to get official word on that.