At E3 2014, Rise of the Tomb Raider played a prominent role in Microsoft’s press conference — but it was broadly speculated that the game’s exclusivity would not last forever. Now, those suspicions have been confirmed, as Square-Enix has announced release windows for the game’s launch on PlayStation 4 and PC.
The game will release on Windows 10 and Steam in early 2016, with a PlayStation 4 release following in the holiday season. This all but confirms that Microsoft brokered a one-year console exclusivity deal with Square-Enix, given the timing of the Xbox release compared to its launch on PlayStation systems.
Many were surprised to hear that Microsoft had managed to establish even a timed exclusivity agreement for Rise of the Tomb Raider, given that it’s the follow-up to a successful reboot to the franchise. It would have seemed that Square-Enix would prefer to give the sequel as broad a prospective audience as possible from day one.
The status of Lara Croft as a PlayStation icon would only have seemed to make this even more likely. While Tomb Raider games have been multiplatform since the beginning, during the 1990s the titular character has been something of a cultural touchstone for the rise of the PlayStation brand.
However, times change — and so do the most popular franchises in gaming. The Uncharted series has scratched the adventurous itch of many gamers since Tomb Raider began to drop off in quality in the 2000s, and unlike the adventures of Ms. Croft, the franchise is a bona fide PlayStation exclusive.
Microsoft’s Phil Spencer has made no secret of his ambitions to deliver an Xbox equivalent to the Uncharted series, and confirmed that Tomb Raider filled that gulf in an interview last year. Now, it’s time to see whether the game can give Microsoft an advantage over Sony given that Uncharted 4 has been delayed to 2016.
This year has already demonstrated that old favourites are back in. The enormous popularity of Mortal Kombat X is evidence that classic franchises still resonate with today’s audiences, and if Rise of the Tomb Raider can build on the solid foundation of its predecessor, it could enjoy a great deal of success.
However, that’s something of a double-edged sword. If the game can’t cut the mustard, then it will be seen as a poor man’s version of Uncharted — and that would be very bad for the Xbox brand, given that Microsoft pursued the title in this manner.
Rise of the Tomb Raider is scheduled to release for Xbox 360 and Xbox One on November 10, 2015. A PC release will follow in early 2016, with a PlayStation 4 release set for Holiday 2016.