From the disgruntled masses of PC and PS4 fans to the deafening cheers of Xbox One supporters, convinced they’d finally landed a blow to the PS4’s unstoppable success, to the critics and unaligned gamers who simply asked ‘wait, what?’, the announcement that Rise of the Tomb Raider will be an Xbox exclusive come 2015 has been the talk of the town. And although the chatter of secret big money deals and sales and console wars clutters up the highways, we will eventually have to accept the fact that Rise of the Tomb Raider is going to be exclusive to Xbox One and Xbox 360 for whatever unspecified amount of time. But do PC and PS4 really need Rise of the Tomb Raider and where does the Tomb Raider franchise go from here? Read on after the break to find out.
Without PC and PS4, The Tomb Raider Brand Won’t Survive
That’s not flamebait, that’s a statistically supported fact.
Now I loved 2013’s Tomb Raider as much as the next gamer. I own three copies of the game including Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition, I bought the recent comics meant to bridge a gap between 2013’s Tomb Raider game and Rise of the Tomb Raider’s events and I’ve waxed lyrical on what I want from the next Tomb Raider game. I love its cast of racially and gender diverse characters, I love their back stories, I love the way the game puts me in Lara’s (probably rather soggy) shoes and makes me feel like the most vulnerable young explorer and a brave, face-melting badass all over the course of one adventure. And I know I’m not alone in thinking this.
But the problem is, not enough of us thought like that upon the game’s release and so even with first month sales of 3.4 million copies, Square Enix initially labelled the game a disappoint and it took a year, 3 million more copies sold, huge discounts and a next-gen rerelease for Tomb Raider to reach Square Enix’s lofty expectations.
What’s key is the way in which Tomb Raider got dragged back into the black.
On last-gen, things were a pretty even split if you look at Tomb Raider’s week one sales, with 50% of copies being sold on Xbox 360 and 42% being sold on PS3. However, on current-gen consoles, there’s a massive difference between the two as 69% of the first week copies of Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition were on PS4, with a measly-by-comparison 31% of sales on Xbox One.
For a game that has had trouble shifting copies from the beginning of its most recent reboot, limiting Rise of the Tomb Raider to just one platform is only going to cripple the franchise’s chance at future success.
Rise of the Tomb Raider on PC and PS4 Will Be The Best Version
Half of the reason why Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition’s PS4 sales eclipsed the Xbox One sales by miles is because gamers were told that. But were they right?
According to a report on Rocket Chainsaw and confirmation from Tomb Raider Executive Producer Scot Amos in a GamesRadar livestream, they were absolutely correct to pick the PS4 version of the game over the Xbox One edition as while Sony’s machine reached a lofty 60FPS at 1080p, Microsoft’s console bottomed out at 30FPS. That’s not going to matter if you’re only here for the game’s mechanics, but when you’re shelling out for ‘the best version’ of a game, you want to make sure you’re buying the best version of the game. That is what you were promised, after all.
Of course with Rise of the Tomb Raider, developer Crystal Dynamics will have had more time to wring the pixellated beauty juice out of the Xbox One’s black and green fruit but that’s a glaring uncertainty. Too, when we already know what wonders PS4 can do with the visuals of Lara’s world and any potential PC version of Rise of the Tomb Raider will make good use of AMD’s Mantle graphics rendering tech, it only makes it more probable that the Xbox One version of the game is not going to be the most beautiful one that we can get our hands on.
Abandoning PC and PS4 Means Abandoning Millions of Tomb Raider Fans
In Tomb Raider’s youth, you could buy the first game on PC and PlayStation One only. It brought puzzles, shooting and 3D graphics which are all things we take for granted now, but back then it was regarded as one of the biggest titles that helped PlayStation establish itself. In recent times though, support for Tomb Raider on PlayStation and PC has amounted to making the latest game more accessible.
Even if they didn’t grow up with Tomb Raider or were put off by the way previous games were talked about as much for their boob jiggle physics as they were their ridiculously entertaining gameplay, gamers in this day and age have had more chances to get involved in Tomb Raider on PC and PlayStation than on Xbox consoles.
From this year’s PlayStation Plus deal in which Sony nabbed the rights to give copies of the game away for free for a month to the many Steam sales and publisher sales in which Square Enix has regularly found opportunities for PC gamers to get Tomb Raider at a knocked down price (even enlisting Ubisoft to help them do so, at one point), the love for Tomb Raider on PC and PlayStation has been fostered like no other.
The people on these platforms are most definitively not a minority (PC gaming is more lucrative than every side of the console market put together, but alas) which is exactly why so many people are irate about it. If Square Enix was worried about the sales of the Tomb Raider franchise and Rise of the Tomb Raider before, the threats of boycott from gamers who think they’ve ‘sold out’ to Microsoft will certainly send them quaking.
So even if there’s a strong chance that Rise of the Tomb Raider is only a ‘timed’ exclusive for Xbox (and will therefore come to PC and PS4 at some point in the future), for Tomb Raider fans, the teams behind the game and PC and PS4 gamers alike, the day that deal runs out can’t come soon enough.
[UPDATED] – Xbox boss Phil Spencer has confirmed in an interview with Eurogamer that the Rise of the Tomb Raider exclusivity deal is timed so as the official line is ‘exclusive to Xbox consoles in 2015’ we can presumably expect the game on PC and PS4 in 2016 instead.