One of the biggest stories to emerge from the early stages of Gamescom 2014 was that Rise of the Tomb Raider will be an Xbox One exclusive. The next installment of the Square Enix published, Crystal Dynamics developed Tomb Raider reboot will release Holiday 2015 on the Xbox One.
Details of the partnership are slim, but Crystal Dynamics head Darrell Gallagher cited in a statement that Microsoft was a major proponent of the 2013 Tomb Raider reboot and expressed his excitement to have their backing of the game. What this translates to me is that it is a mutually beneficial partnership in which Microsoft paid to have a third party tentpole exclusive to help spur sales of their Xbox One, which is being handily beaten by Sony’s PlayStation 4 at retail. All this could change with the first true Fall season set to begin and having a major ace-in-the-hole like Rise of the Tomb Raider will provide Microsoft with a little security, at least for the foreseeable future.
The term exclusive often gets tossed around at games to varying degrees of exclusivity. Sometimes it is time-released DLC, other times a console specific exclusivity (with concurrent PC development), others it is a temporary exclusivity with an alternate version planned for launch when the deal expires. It appears however that the deal is for Xbox One only, as Gallagher tried to appease Sony and PC communities in his statement, referring to a definitive version of 2013’s Tomb Raider and the upcoming Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris as options for the (neglected) Tomb Raider faithful. As great as it may be for Microsoft to retain Rise of the Tomb Raider’s exclusivity in any capacity, it may not be the best idea for Square Enix, who notoriously set lofty sales goals for the 2013 Tomb Raider. Goals that were only barely met a year later.
I suspect the deal is a form of timed exclusivity, maybe in the year-long range, mostly due to the foolish long term ramifications Square Enix might face should they simultaneously alienate the communities of Sony, Nintendo and the PC. Tomb Raider is too big a franchise to bank on one console, unless there will be some sort of bonus Kinect rhythm dancing game included.
One can only dream.