Considering how popular Lara Croft’s Tomb Raider reboot became in 2013, many fans were not terribly surprised to see a sequel greenlit and revealed during the Microsoft press conference at E3 2014.
The shocking aspect of this announcement came at the end of the trailer when Xbox boss, Phil Spencer, revealed Rise of the Tomb Raider would actually be an Xbox One exclusive title. Outrage and confusion spread through the fanbase due to clumsy messaging and corporate speak, over what the term exclusive meant. After months of dancing around the topic, it has been confirmed that it’s only a timed exclusive and in a recent interview, Square Enix admits that it was aware fans wouldn’t be initially happy with the news.
Speaking with the Examiner, Square Enix CEO of the Americas and Europe, Phil Rogers, admitted that the company expected the fanbase to get upset over the exclusivity announcement regarding Rise of the Tomb Raider especially considering that the 2013 title was multiplatform from the start.
“I hope fans know that it wasn’t an easy decision. I think any sort of partnership at this level is a decision that took a long time for us to get to. The decision at a studio level, we took very, very seriously. We knew it would, in the short-term, disappoint fans.”
Outside of Microsoft taking on the publisher role for the game where they handle marketing and distribution duties, Rogers went on to confirm it was Microsoft’s passion for the project and franchise overall that really impressed Square Enix.
“Having been working with us on previous games in a lesser sense, they’ve been supportive. [However], for Rise of the Tomb Raider, they’ve just brought this passion and belief that has really enabled us to blow people away. People should feel that about Microsoft. Their commitment to Tomb Raider is just amazing for us.”
The exclusivity message once the game was first revealed felt like it was intended to misdirect fans. Both Square Enix, Crystal Dynamics, and Microsoft danced around the term making it appear that the game would stay on Xbox One solely. It wouldn’t be until a few months after the reveal that a straight answer was finally given, ending the confusion on where Rise of the Tomb Raider would end up.
Exclusivity deals are nothing new this generation and fans have seen many different types over the last two years from Sony’s timed deals with Bungie over Destiny content to Microsoft partnering with Platinum Games for Scalebound. Where this deal feels a bit different is through the PR messaging and how misleading it became. Instead of making a clear announcement, the water was muddied turning the situation into a messy controversy for both companies.
Does the explanation given by Rogers help any? How do you think the situation has been handled so far?
Rise of the Tomb Raider is scheduled for release on November 10 for Xbox One, early 2016 for PC, and Holiday 2016 for PlayStation 4.