Rise of the Tomb Raider – is exclusivity a good thing?

Square

During Microsoft’s conference at Gamescom 2014, it was announced that Square Enix’s The Rise of the Tomb Raider will be exclusive to Xbox when it’s released in “Holiday 2015”. The announcement was greeted with outrage from PlayStation and PC gamers, who were eagerly awaiting the return of Lara Croft following her highly successful 2013 reboot, Tomb Raider.

However, despite Microsoft repeatedly reassuring that The Rise of the Tomb Raider is exclusive to Xbox (whether that means Xbox 360 and Xbox One is currently unclear); there was still confusion as to whether the title would arrive on other platforms at a later date. Even the Square Enix press release tiptoed around the subject.

Nevertheless, the game’s developer Crystal Dynamics provided extra clarity, confirming the Xbox exclusivity. In a blog, Darrell Gallagher, the Crystal Dynamics Head of Studios, said: “Today’s announcement with Microsoft is one step to help us put Tomb Raider on top of action adventure gaming. 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.

“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.”

Despite The Rise of the Tomb Raider’s timed exclusive on the Xbox, Gallagher assured fans that they will continue to develop on the other platforms: “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.”

The fact that there was so much confusion surrounding the word “exclusive” goes to show how overused the word has become in the games industry. Not to mention the amount of “timed exclusives” that both Sony and Microsoft are boasting time and time again.

Although, can you blame them? It’s a well known fact that exclusives sell consoles. The Xbox owes the vast majority of its success to the Halo series – which has remained exclusive to the console (with the exception of a PC rerelease). It’s no coincidence that sales of the original Xbox and the Xbox 360 have seen a significant increase around the launch of a new Halo title.

Nevertheless, that’s what the Xbox One is currently lacking. It’s no secret that the PlayStation 4 has got off to the better start, selling two million more units than the Xbox One (according to current figures).

While the likes of Forza Motorsport 5, Ryse, Dead Rising 3 and Titanfall all received rave reviews, none of them have been a major console seller, especially when you compare it to the PlayStation 4’s strong indie game line-up and The Last of Us: Remastered.

This is why The Rise of the Tomb Raider being exclusive to Microsoft is such a big coup. With gamers looking to purchase a next-generation console over the upcoming Christmas period, they may be more inclined to opt for the Xbox One based on the future games line-up. Well played Microsoft, well played.