Gamescom 2014: Why Tomb Raider As An Xbox One Exclusive Is A Lousy Move…

One: Tomb Raider got its start at a multiplatform game (PlayStation, Sega Saturn and PC), allowing many millions of gamers to see what original development team Core Design had created. While (very) dated by today’s standards, the innovation on a few technical fronts, a strong female lead character and the game paying homage to everything from Prince of Persia to the Indiana Jones movies made it an instant smash worldwide. Clamping the new game onto ONE system “forever” is to me, a mistake that’s going to result in lower sales for the new game unless there’s guarantee people will buy an Xbox One because of the new game. It’s likely in some cases, but I’d bet an old penny that any console sales are absolutely nowhere near what both Tomb Raider and Tomb Raider II did for PlayStation sales back when both games were released.

In my years in retail, there have been a handful of games I’ve seen people slap down money to buy a console for and the first three Tomb Raider games are on that list. Granted, TR III was a bit problematic on a few fronts (and how!), but crazy difficulty aside, it still sold systems…

Two: No doubt, this deal was done to compete with Sony’s extremely popular Uncharted series, itself inspired by Tomb Raider and Indiana Jones, but with a male lead and more cinematic elements added to each chapter. The Tomb Raider reboot from last year seems to have not sold in the numbers Square Enix thought across platforms with 150 million current users, so narrowing the franchise to a user base of only a few million is somewhat baffling to say the least. On the other hand, I can see a teeny-tiny bit of logic here. If, say three million of about five million Xbox One users buy the game (which is a bit high, I’ll admit), Microsoft, developer Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix can trumpet those numbers as “successful” on that particular platform as a high attach rate. Or something like that.

Three: While a PC version wasn’t announced, it’s probably a no-brainer that there WILL be one coming at some point. At least there better be, for the sake of all who made this deal. If anything, by not even mentioning it, Microsoft just angered the people who can play the game “as it’s meant to be played”, as some PC elitists tend to believe anything not running on their higher end systems isn’t worth playing. I’ll not touch that hot topic here other than to agree that in some cases, they’re right and sometimes they’re blowing smoke out of their behinds and need a cooling fan or three shoved up where the sun doesn’t shine. Great games defy falling into the “it ONLY looks good on PC” bin by having gameplay that’s more important than every map bumped and how fast it can run when on a system clocking speeds faster than the game can be enjoyed at.

Four: it looks as if Microsoft is simply throwing money at both Square Enix (who’s had a sort of lousy few years) and Crystal Dynamics (a VERY talented studio I respect) in order to layer the publisher with a much-needed cash infusion, the developer with no need to make games for a more powerful system or PC. Meanwhile, gamers who are fans of the franchise who maybe don’t want to buy a system just for ONE game (not everyone is a Halo, Forza Motorsport or future maybe hit Sunset Overdrive fan) will be crossing their fingers and closing their wallets until they see news of the game hitting a platform they actually own. Er, granted, if you only own a Wii U, you’re out of luck on many fronts (hey, I have one here and treasure it when I see stuff I want to play arrive – this year and next will be good ones)…

Now, I just could be one hundred percent wrong-ola here and Microsoft will be laughing all the way to the bank here. However, given the instant and increasingly bile-like bile responses I’m seeing on message boards as well as the more guarded comments on industry sites, this is a deal that’s going down in history in probably the way even Microsoft wasn’t expecting when it made it. Well, there’s nothing to do but make a LOT of popcorn and pull up a comfy chair. Lara Croft just because a REALLY wanted woman and let’s hope all that anger turns into sales should she not be as “exclusive” as we all now think…


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