Seldom do reboots actually reinvigorate a franchise. Sure, Star Trek wasn’t too bad but when you consider the likes of Point Break and The Amazing Spider-Man and Conan The Barbarian and Godzilla (twice), you find yourself scared away from reboots. Gaming isn’t immune to that with the likes of Sim City, Medal of Honor and Sonic the Hedgehog as failed attempts to reinvigorate franchises.
One of the more successful reboots in history is 2013’s Tomb Raider which is the series best-selling and among its most critically acclaimed. It came as a shock that Microsoft had to pay the way for this sequel to 2013’s hit. Rise of the Tomb Raider recently hit PC after an exclusivity period on Xbox One and will come to PS4 this fall (despite being the platform that Tomb Raider sold best on).
So how does the sequel to the reboot standup? Well, it’s not all sunshine and lollipops.
The pre-E3 festivities began with a newcomer on Sunday night and will end on Tuesday morning (afternoon away from the west coast) with another newcomer. This time, it’s Square Enix who are making their E3 debut. While they won’t have the Tomb Raider sequel, they have a few other sequels that should excite gamers and the assembled press alike.
With Bethesda’s E3 opening press conference out of the way, it’s time for the big boys to play with the four Monday press conferences that we typically see on the Monday before E3 officially begins. The first of the four Monday pressers is Microsoft. While Microsoft bounced back from the Xbox One launch E3 presser last year, this year looks to be an even bigger year for Microsoft at E3. This could be their big chance to move ahead of Sony in the 8th-Gen console wars.
In an investor call at the end of the month, Square Enix effectively called the Tomb Raider reboot that had been out for all of three weeks a failure. They said that they had expected the game to ship between five and six million copies and only it moved 3.4 million. Square Enix made it sound like the Tomb Raider franchise was dead on re-arrival.
Over the following 24 months, Tomb Raider and the current-gen (PS4 and XB1) Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition sold another 5.1 million copies to bring the total units sold to a franchise record of 8.5 million copies sold. They’re touting the success of the Tomb Raider reboot in the run up to this fall’s release of The Rise of the Tomb Raider (a timed exclusive on Xbox One and Xbox 360).
So what happened for Square Enix to change their tune?
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.
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.