Microsoft has confirmed today that Rise of the Tomb Raider will be an Xbox One exclusive.
Lara Croft made her name on PlayStation platforms; right up until 2006, the Tomb Raider franchise appeared only on PSOne, PS2, Sega Saturn, Dreamcast and Windows PC. With the success of Xbox and its install base growing significantly, it was inevitable that Eidos (publisher until 2009) would reach out to more platforms to open up the exciting world of Lara Croft to even more gamers. So, in 2006 Tomb Raider: Legend became the first game in the franchise to appear on Microsoft consoles, too.
Since then, a further four Tomb Raider games have launched across PS2, PS3, Xbox, Xbox and Xbox One with fans of both platforms embracing Lara Croft’s adventures. In 2013, the Tomb Raider reboot was a resounding success on PS3 and Xbox 360, winning game awards across the board and reportedly selling more on Sony’s console than on Microsoft’s. When the Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition was announced for PS4 and Xbox One, once again it was the PS4 version that consistently stayed above the Xbox One version on a weekly basis in the charts.
This shock announcement certainly begs the question: why has Square Enix (publisher of Tomb Raider since 2009) sold out with Microsoft exclusivity when there’s such a rich history of the franchise with PlayStation gamers? Such was the scale of the bombshell delivered by Phil Harrison at the Microsoft Gamescom press briefing earlier today that there’s still confusion all over the net whether people misheard the “exclusive” comment and whether what he actually meant to say was “timed exclusive”.
Well, the confusion looks to have been cleared up by Crystal Dynamic’s Darrell Gallagher, who has taken to the Tomb Raider tumblr account to evangelise Microsoft and clarify that they are not leaving the PlayStation community behind.
"Our friends at Microsoft have always seen huge potential in Tomb Raider and have believed in our vision since our first unveil with them on their stage at E3 2011," he writes. "We know they will get behind this game more than any support we have had from them in the past - we believe this will be a step to really forging the Tomb Raider brand as one of the biggest in gaming, with the help, belief and backing of a major partner like Microsoft,’’ says Gallagher.
‘’This doesn't mean that we're walking away from our fans who only play on PlayStation or on PC. Those are great systems, with great partners, and amazing communities. We have Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris coming to those platforms this December, and Tomb Raider: The Definitive Edition is available on PS4.’’
Yes, we have those other Lara Croft games coming to PS4, but this does feel like a two-fingered salute to the legions of PlayStation fans who have followed the franchise for many years and who would have bought the game. Microsoft must have paid some serious money to get Rise of the Tomb Raider exclusivity, but in the meantime thousands of fans have been neglected for the next chapter in the series; those fans that have invested time and money into the franchise. It’s true that videogames are a business and publishers have to do what they need to do to make money, but this is a bizarre decision that may come back to haunt them.
Despite Gallagher’s comments though, confusion continues to spread over Rise of the Tomb Raider’s exclusivity deal and whether it will ever actually make it to PlayStation platforms. Even Spike T.V.’s Geoff Keighley is reaching out to Square Enix for clarification…
Trying to get more clarity on Tomb Raider. Xbox tells me Microsoft Studios is not publishing game and listing on web is an error.— Geoff Keighley (@geoffkeighley) August 12, 2014
We’ll keep you updated.