Gamescom: Rise of the Tomb Raider now exclusive to Xbox platforms

Date Posted Author
13th August 2014 Matt Bailey

Forget new game announcements (including some impressive Xbox One indie signings), the biggest news from Microsoft's Gamescom press conference was that Rise of the Tomb Raider, Crystal Dynamics' sequel to last year's well-received reboot of the popular franchise, will be "exclusive to Xbox platforms". In other words, Xbox 360 and Xbox One-only, with PS3, PS4 and PC versions now off the table.

Publisher Square Enix would seem to have taken a rather large cheque from Microsoft to ignore the other platforms, at least in the short term. The PS4 version of re-release Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition, which arrived on the machine alongside the Xbox One version earlier this year, took up 69% of the sales across the two platforms, so it seems a majority of the fanbase are being cut off here - not even counting the sizable PC audience for this series. Even an exclusive period of, say, six months would likely involve quite a lot of cash and/or marketing budget from Microsoft.

The 2013 reboot of Tomb Raider

The 2013 reboot of Tomb Raider

Third-party exclusives might not seem unusual to those of us who have been around the industry for many years now, but they've become far less frequent in recent years, as development costs go up, making multi-platform a norm for big-budget releases. This year's Titanfall, from Respawn and EA, was an exception to this, but as a new franchise it was more about reducing the risk while Microsoft put all the money into building a name for the game. Tomb Raider is different; it's an established franchise that has long been multi-platform; it became strongly associated with the PlayStation, but every game has also had a PC release. A post on the official microblog talks about "really forging the Tomb Raider brand as one of the biggest in gaming" with Microsoft, casually ignoring the existing audience. A sequel to a game that already has PC and PS4 versions being limited to just the Xbox 360 and Xbox One seems like a bad move for the franchise, even if it makes short-term business sense for Square Enix, a publisher whose finances have been looking a little shaky in recent years.

Those with one of the Xboxes can still look forward to what looks like a promising follow-up from Crystal Dynamics, set for release towards the end of 2015. And if Xbox head Phil Spencer's words on Thursday are anything to go by, it seems like it could head to other platforms at some point in the future.

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