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Rise of the Tomb Raider’s Exclusivity will Kill the Franchise

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Tomb Raider was a heavy hitter once, a long time ago. The first three games are almost synonymous with PlayStation nostalgia, but that was years ago and the time since has been filled with mediocre sequels and disappointing attempts of modernizing the franchise. Tomb Raider, the second reboot for the first lady of gaming, was a step in the right direction, but today’s announcement that its sequel will be “100% exclusive” to Xbox One is going to kill off the franchise completely.

Fall of the Tomb Raider

Exclusivity is an odd subject these days. There was a time when pinning your game next to a certain console came with a whole host of advantages (and potential disadvantages), but those days are long gone. With two current gen consoles that are practically identical in every important way, there’s no reason to mess your fans around by not allowing everybody access. Sure, publishers aren’t above offering additional content exclusively, but actual base content rarely comes to a single device.

Are Microsoft footing the bill for the advertising budget as well? Boy, I can see that being a tempting offer on Square's part

Fanboys would disagree, but it’s the most sensible way of doing things. There’s absolutely no reason why Rise of the Tomb Raider shouldn’t come out on PS4, not beyond a signature on a slip of paper and what we suspect is a very healthy cash transaction. It’s not helpful, it’s not going to give you a decent reputation – how much does it cost to make you cut your sales in more than half and piss off people who have been dedicated to your work for decades? How much does it cost to make a games company take the wrong decision?

There’s no way back from this. Tomb Raider 3 could potentially come out on the PlayStation 4, at which point there’ll be millions of people who have missed an entire chapter in the story. Unless Rise of is going to be the last chapter of this reboot – possible considering the franchise’s past – there’s no way they can carry on without this choice screwing them over. Microsoft have effectively made Xbox the only place to enjoy the new Tomb Raider series until it becomes the old Tomb Raider series.

And that’s before we get around to sales. Tomb Raider, the reboot, was a failure…. to start with. It took a PC release and quite a few months, but it was a game that had a very long tail. It sold well regardless, but it wasn’t until the Steam sales had kicked in that it became profitable. What’s going to happen now? Are we to assume that Square Enix thinks going exclusive will make Rise of the Tomb Raider a must-purchase, regardless of any future marketing? Are Microsoft footing the bill for the advertising budget as well? Boy, I can see that being a tempting offer on Square’s part.

Making a Mistake

There are people who are almost certain that Rise of the Tomb Raider will release elsewhere, on PC at the very least, and it’s tempting to stay optimistic alongside them. This was Microsoft’s biggest announcement today though, the polar opposite of the Final Fantasy XIII 360 reveal all those years back. It’s not something that’s going to disappear over night, and no amount of wishful thinking will take that away. Square have turned in fan satisfaction for a quick profit, but at what cost? The future of the Tomb Raider series may have just been squashed.

 

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blank Mat Growcott has been a long-time member of the gaming press. He's written two books and a web series, and doesn't have nearly enough time to play the games he writes about.

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