Rise of the Tomb Raider to be Published by Microsoft
Just when you thought that the controversy over bought and paid for third-party console exclusives had regained new life with the announcement that Capcom’s Street Fighter V would have console exclusivity on the PS4, the story got bigger. Not only is the sequel to 2013’s hit Tomb Raider going to have timed exclusivity on the Xbox One but publishing duties will be handled by Microsoft Studios rather IP holders Square Enix.
The announcement of Rise of the Tomb Raider at this June’s E3 was immediately met with controversy when it was announced that the game would be released as a timed exclusive for Xbox platforms with PC and PlayStation gamers having to wait an unspecified length of time before a release on those systems.
In a statement confirming the news, Square Enix said that Microsoft “will get behind this game with more support across development, marketing and retail than ever before.”
The implication behind this is that Microsoft is pouring a pile of money into this game. While Square Enix was quick to say that the game failed to meet expectations, as of March, the game was reported to have sold more than 6 million copies in the year since release. Even though Tomb Raider isn’t burning a hole in SqEnix’s pocket, they’re letting Microsoft contribute to the game to the point where they will be funding it along with funding it enough to earn exclusivity rights.
As was the case back in June, this latest news is coming with the rumours that Microsoft wants to position Tomb Raider as a competitor to Uncharted. Naughty Dog’s Uncharted is Sony’s flagship first-party franchise and the similar genre and gameplay style of Tomb Raider makes it the closest competitor to Uncharted. With Sony expecting Uncharted to be a system seller, a high-quality Tomb Raider game positioned against it in the Holiday 2015 release lineup is designed to attract eyeballs Microsoft’s way.
The problem is the needlessness of this agreement. When Bayonetta 2 was announced as a Wii U exclusive, people weren’t happy but Nintendo funding it in return for exclusivity was legitimately the only way that the game made. Heck, remember the glory days of Squaresoft when they had PlayStation exclusivity? Sony bought a portion of the company to keep it afloat after they took a beating on Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. In the cases of Rise of the Tomb Raider and now Street Fighter V, it’s not really competition but a segregation of the user base.
While I’m always banging on about competition being a good thing, there’s a difference between trying to compete with the other console manufacturers and trying to buy your way to victory. One is a time-honoured tradition and the other will be met with scepticism that could be your undoing. Buying established third-party franchises isn’t competing. It’s just punishing people who love games that picked the wrong console as an early adopter.
And we should be throwing equal blame at Square Enix and Capcom. They did agree to this too, after all.