The E3 2014 announcement of Crystal Dynamics' Rise of the Tomb Raider, a sequel to the 2013 Tomb Raider reboot, caused a lot of excitement among fans of the franchise when a cinematic teaser trailer played during the Xbox conference. For those who played the previous game on PC or PS4, however, there's bad news afoot as it seems it wasn't just for arbitrary reasons that Microsoft was the company to unveil the game.
Crystal Dynamics head Darrell Gallagher today announced that Rise of the Tomb Raider will release Holiday 2015... exclusively on Xbox. It's unclear whether the game will release only on Xbox One or if it is coming to Xbox 360 as well, but if Microsoft wants to use the property as a means to sell more current-gen consoles (the Xbox One has long been lagging behind the PS4 in sales) then the former seems more likely.
Those who are up to date on forthcoming AAA releases will no doubt notice that this puts Rise of the Tomb Raider in direct competition with PS4 exclusive Uncharted 4, which (according to its Amazon listing) will release on December 31st, 2015. It's clearly a strategic move by Microsoft, but Gallagher's blog post puts it in more delicate, PR-friendly terms:
"As you may have seen, we’ve just announced that Rise of the Tomb Raider, coming Holiday 2015, is exclusively on Xbox. We consider all of you to be the lifeblood of Tomb Raider and the work we do at Crystal. I’d like to give you some insight into this decision, and why we feel this is the very best thing for the Tomb Raider sequel we’re creating at the studio.
Tomb Raider in 2013 was a success due in large part to your continued support. Our goal has always been to deliver something truly special with Rise of the Tomb Raider. Today’s announcement with Microsoft is one step to help us put Tomb Raider on top of action adventure gaming. Our friends at Microsoft have always seen huge potential in Tomb Raider and have believed in our vision since our first unveil with them on their stage at E3 2011. We know they will get behind this game more than any support we have had from them in the past - we believe this will be a step to really forging the Tomb Raider brand as one of the biggest in gaming, with the help, belief and backing of a major partner like Microsoft.
This doesn’t mean that we’re walking away from our fans who only play on PlayStation or on PC. Those are great systems, with great partners, and amazing communities. We have Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris coming to those platforms this December, and Tomb Raider: The Definitive Edition is available on PS4.
We know that there are probably many more questions and concerns. Please do send them to us, and we’ll answer to the best of our ability. Meanwhile we’re going all out to try and make something truly special - the most ambitious Tomb Raider game ever built."
The "Tomb Raider community" addressed in the blog post have mostly responded to the news with ire, with the top-rated comments including "Translation = MS offered us a s**t-ton of money," and "F**k you, sell-outs." It's easy to understand the resentment; unlike Uncharted, which has always been a PS4 exclusive franchise, Rise of the Tomb Raider is a direct sequel to a multiplatform game, meaning that fans who enjoyed it on PC, PS3 or PS4 will be forced to make the move to Xbox in order to continue the story.
For those who are dedicated to either PC or PlayStation consoles, however, there is still a glimmer of hope that this could simply be a timed exclusive. The wording used in Crystal Dynamics' statement, "Rise of the Tomb Raider, coming Holiday 2015, is exclusively on Xbox," is somewhat ambiguous due to its careful mention of the release date, so don't rule out the possibility of an eventual PC/PS4 release just yet. If this is a timed exclusive, it makes sense that Microsoft would not want the developer to advertise the fact.
This is certainly a bold move from Square Enix, and it will be interesting to see the impact it ends up having for the Tomb Raider franchise and for the Xbox One.
Rise of the Tomb Raider will release exclusively for Xbox in late 2015.
Source: Crystal Dynamics