Rise of the Timed Exclusive: Why a Deal with Microsoft is Unfair for Tomb Raider Fans

LC-rise

Photo: GameSpot

I think I get how the video game industry works: 1) Develop an amazing video game that’s widely available on all consoles and PC; 2) Ensure that said game builds a loyal player base; 3) Sell millions of copies; 4) Plan the inevitable sequel; 5) Secure a sequel deal with the publisher that offers the most $$$; 6) Agree to exclusively distribute the sequel on the publisher’s console; 7) Potentially alienate about half of the loyal player base; 8) … Profit!

The sequel to 2013’s Tomb Raider reboot may be one of the the worst examples of scummy backroom console exclusivity-deals. Several game journalism outlets have discussed that Rise of the Tomb Raider will release exclusively on Xbox 360 and Xbox One for an undisclosed period of time later this year. What I haven’t seen discussed is how this deal is simply unfair for Tomb Raider fans who play the games on PlayStation consoles and PC. In case any gamer needs reminding, the 1996 debut of Lara Croft arrived as a multi-platform release on DOS, PlayStation, and Saturn systems.

What irks me about this unfair deal is that it’s not supported by much logic. Sure, I’ve heard the news that Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is also rumored to release later this year and that this last entry of Nathan Drake’s saga risks competing with the sequel to Lara’s re-imagining. Frankly? That’s bull. The genre of both of these games may be similar but they also have the same fan bases – Nathan’s fans are not going to not buy Lara’s game just because the titles are released in the same fiscal quarter. If anything, the original Tomb Raider series inspired Uncharted which in turn influenced the TR reboot; they practically advertise each other!

If my argument hasn’t convinced you yet – here’s the evidence that’s the real linchpin of this whole debacle. Tomb Raider sold far, far better on PlayStation systems than on Xbox consoles – and that includes the PS3 version as well as the ‘Definitive Edition’ on PS4. But don’t take my word for it; VGChartz.com has the numbers to prove it.

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The Xbox version of TR ranked 35th best-selling game of the year on the 2013 global video game sales chart: http://www.vgchartz.com/yearly/2013/Global/

TR-sales-ps3

The PS3 version of TR ranked 21st best-selling game of the year on the 2013 global video game sales chart: http://www.vgchartz.com/yearly/2013/Global/

TR-sales-ps4

The PS4 version of TR: Definitive Edition ranked 98th best-selling game of the year on the 2014 global video game sales chart: http://www.vgchartz.com/yearly/2014/Global/; the Xbox One version did not break the top 100 sales of 2014 global video game sales chart

I’m not “whining” about this particular timed exclusive deal just because I played the 2013 Tomb Raider on my PC. I’m thinking about all of the loyal Lara Croft fans who own PS3s, PS4s, and PCs who will have to wait longer than Xbox gamers to play the sequel. Personally? I won’t have the money – or time – to play the game when it launches Holiday Season 2015. Heck, I’ll be lucky if I have a chance to play it to completion by Holiday Season 2016. This little rant is for all the fans who are dying to play Rise but won’t be able to – not due to a shortage of money or time – but because they don’t own the right console.

The VGChartz.com sales data is the cold hard facts, ladies and gentlemen, why the timed exclusive release of Rise of the Tomb Raider on Xbox consoles is unfair to the most loyal and dedicated Lara Croft fans. PlayStation gamers were a huge reason why the Tomb Raider reboot was the massive success that it was – to give them the sloppy seconds is simply unfair and unjustified.

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20 thoughts on “Rise of the Timed Exclusive: Why a Deal with Microsoft is Unfair for Tomb Raider Fans

  1. It still baffles me why its an exclusive. I know SquareEnix probably got money for it, but they were the ones that complained about its low sales. Going with one of the lesser market shared consoles just seems bad. Of course it will probably end up going to PS4 in time.

    • Exactly. That’s why it’s complete nonsense. CrystalDynamics and Microsoft tout the idea that the timed exclusive release will help the franchise succeed… but which system did TR sell substantially better on, in the first place? Let’s get real – the only company making the money in this deal is Microsoft (and probably SE, too). Publishers win, the developer makes minimum profit, and PS/PC fans are left waiting in the dust.

      • Here’s the scary thing for Microsoft, all of their exclusive games came out in the first year. Sure Halo might be coming out later, but PS4 hasn’t had its exclusive games come out yet and they’re still beating XBone 2:1.

      • I don’t even see this as a “console war” issue — just unfair to loyal fans who purchased the first TR on their console of choice. =/

      • Only another year before its on PS4 and it’ll be the better version too 🙂

      • I still get what you’re saying. There’s the potential it may only come out for Microsoft. Then I guess as a fan you’re left with buying an expensive box when you have one or watching Youtube play throughs when you want to play it yourself or waiting until 360s and the game are cheaper. You do have a good point though about messing over the fans. That’s why I’m on PC, everything comes to us 🙂 In time of course. Except first party.

      • I’m leaning towards PC more and more these days. The epic sales are incentive enough.

      • Yeah and also the bundles too. In fact SquareEnix has a bundle right now. Coincidence.

  2. They take the money of people who supported the game and reward….Xbox players only….thanks.

    • Yep. I really don’t see how anyone – gamers or the publishing team (Crystal Dynamics) – benefits from this. All $$$ will go straight to Microsoft because they’re publishing it. Publishers always earn more than the developers, but I imagine that in this case, CD will make even less because the game will be sold on only two systems (at least initially).

      • Publishers really do just see everything as a business more times than not, there is no creative industry separation that functions on different rules, they throw them all in the same basket and it will be their undoing.

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  4. I have been a Tomb Raider Fan since I was 4 years old, I have played the games all my life on my Play Station. I was looking forward to playing this game since I finished the last one! But now to figure out I won’t be playing it when its released because I own a ps3 instead of an xbox? Thats bull. Tomb Raider should be available on all platforms when its released. like it always has!! Fans (who gave them money to make the game in the first place) are being thrown under the bus for no valid reason!

  5. I think Microsoft wanted this deal, because they wanted to boost XBox One sales with this game, knowing exactly that Tomb Raider has some serious fan base.

    • Yep, that’s Marketing 101… dupe people into buying something they WANT (in this case, TR) but don’t need (Xbox One… ‘cuz I already have enough ways to play video games, kthx).

      It’s a pretty lousy tactic though, b/c TR was available on most game consoles prior to this move.

  6. Little clarification, it’s Tomb Raider 2013, not 2012.

    Yeah, this situation sucks. I play on my PC because we usually get what PS/Xb does, even tho we’re still the ones that get hurt the most since we can’t get any game on the day one. We’re always at least a couple of days behind.

    Scary thing about MS – they published a couple of games that were meant to be timed exclusive, but they end being up xbox exclusives with PC release a 1-2 years later so I’m not buying their “timed exclusive” term, especially after Spencer from MS said that if he could decide about TR’s future, he’d make this game only for xbox and SE said they plan to work with MS in the future too. They called it “long term relationship-partnership”.

    Also, let’s not forget about incoming anniversary. It’s going to suck all the way that we won’t be able to really celebrate it. Spoilers for ROTTR will be everywhere and all we’ll be able to do is gonna be sit there and watch… and wait… wait… waaaait…

    I’m a fan of the game since 1996 so for me this whole deal is something realy big and really bad. It hurts, I feel like my long support for the title means nothing. Guess I’ll be singing “all I wanted for Christmas was to play Rise of the Tomb Raider” this year.

    • Thanks for the clarification, Ana! I changed the date to 2013. I don’t know how I missed that as I checked Wiki for the release date (also, I reference the 2013 VGChartz sales data) – my only defense is that I wrote and posted this between 11 PM and midnight – so, my brain was a tad fried.

      Damn, I am upset just to see how much this impacts and disappoints you as a sincere and longtime fan of TR.
      And that whole thing about making TR an exclusive license for Xbox/Microsoft is sickening – do you have a link to the original quote/interview where he said that?

      You make a valid point about spoilers, too. So are all TR fans without Xbox consoles expected to unfollow all TR-related websites and social media? Ugh, nothing stays a secret on the internet – especially the content and narratives of high-profile video games.

      • Can’t find it at the moment (it was last year, not long after the revelation of xb excusive), but if I will, I’m going to post it here.

        I don’t know if unfollowing TR-related media will change anything at all. Spoilers will hit us hard anyway. There will be tons of ads all over the internet and in TV for sure. Not to mention, they’ll try to sell as much as they can on Xmas so it’s going to be a huge disaster and an actual slap in the face for longtime fans because the fact that we’re not significant will finally become a reality.

      • Good point. I really wish the timed-exclusive nature of the release could be amended – but with Microsoft publishing it won’t happy. >_<

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