The announcement of Rise of the Tomb Raider, a sequel to the 2013 reboot of the Tomb Raider franchise, at E3 2014 was marred somewhat by a lack of clarity over exactly which platforms the game will release on. Although it was presented as an Xbox exclusive and is currently being marketed as such, Xbox boss Phil Spencer also admitted that the deal with Square Enix has a set duration, saying that, "I didn’t buy the IP. I didn’t buy the studio. It’s not mine… I don’t own every iteration of Tomb Raider… I don’t own them building Tomb Raider on other platforms."
The confusion has led some fans to wonder if Rise of the Tomb Raider is a timed exclusive only and will eventually be released on PS4 as well. The game is a clear competitor for Naughty Dog's upcoming adventure game Uncharted 4: A Thief's End, which belongs to a franchise that hasn't been around for as long as Tomb Raider but which has already seen a lot of success.
It has now been confirmed that Microsoft isn't just partnering with Square Enix on Rise of the Tomb Raider - Microsoft is actually publishing the game. Xbox Head of Marketing Aaron Greenberg stated as such in response to a fan question about whether Microsoft or Square-Enix was in charge of publishing.
In a statement to Eurogamer, Square Enix confirmed what Greenberg had said and revealed that the company had offered "support across development, marketing and retail." It's fair to say that this probably means a significant financial investment on the part of Microsoft, which would make the possibility of the game ever releasing on PS4 a lot more slim.
"Yes, Microsoft will be publishing Rise of the Tomb Raider on Xbox. Microsoft has always seen huge potential in Tomb Raider and they will get behind this game with more support across development, marketing and retail than ever before, which we believe will be a step in continuing to build the Tomb Raider franchise as one of the biggest in gaming."
Although Tomb Raider sales were strong, Square Enix still considered the game's performance to be disappointing due to the company's very high (some would say unreasonably high) sales expectations. Rise of the Tomb Raider faces a considerable challenge in Uncharted 4; Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception sold 3.8 million copies on launch day compared to Tomb Raider's 1 million, and an October 2014 report by Ars Technica (before Xbox bundle discounts around Black Friday sales in North America) estimated that a total of 13.5 million PS4 units have been shipped compared to around 7 million Xbox One units.
Would a more permanent partnership between Microsoft and the Tomb Raider franchise be of benefit to both, or should Lara Croft be allowed to explore more platforms? Weigh in with your thoughts on Rise of the Tomb Raider's Xbox exclusivity in the comments.
Rise of the Tomb Raider releases for Xbox 360 and Xbox One in 2015.