Now Loading…Rise of the Tomb Raider Xbox Exclusivity: is the Backlash Justified?
In this week’s “Now Loading…” segment, PSLS staff discuss Microsoft’s Rise of the Tomb Raider exclusivity fiasco, and whether a backlash from the franchise’s fans on Sony platforms is justified. Please note that each opinion should be attributed to the respective individual and not to the website as a whole.
Cameron: I love a good exclusive just as much as the next person. However, I cannot stand the business practice of taking a series that was multi-platform and striking a timed-exclusivity deal. In case of Tomb Raider, I don’t think it really makes sense for Microsoft to do this because it isn’t a system seller. As far as the publisher is concerned, I think this move could potentially kill off PlayStation 4 sales from people who look at it as a slap in the face. In the end, though, who cares… it’s just Tomb Raider. It’s not like we are talking some epic game like Suikoden VI or Persona 5, and it’s not like PS4 owners don’t have a Tomb Raider killer in Uncharted 4. Oh wait…they do. Desperation and not thinking things through can cause companies to do some fairly ridiculous stuff. Just look at the PSP Go.
Chandler: What a two-sided coin we have here. On one side, exclusivity outside of first-party studios is a bad thing because it makes fanboys of us all. There are seemingly no strong reasons that Insomniac is only making Sunset Overdrive for Xbox One, or that Square Enix is releasing Rise of the Tomb Raider exclusively first on the Xbox One. These are third-party companies that could benefit off of more gamers having access to their products, and yet they limit their market. That’s like telling everyone that only boys can come see your movie, or that your book can only be read by people living in the western half of the United States. Why needlessly limit your audience?
If your answer to that is “money,” then you are right, but it’s not a profitable endeavor. It’s more like a payday loan. Sure, Square Enix may make a certain sum off of Microsoft for now, but in the long run, they have hurt their brand and will only require more bailouts to keep afloat unless they really change their strategy. Developers shouldn’t be focused on these companies, they should focus on how it affects their real audience– the gamers.
There is another side to things though, and that is console optimization. Exclusives allow for the developer to optimize specifically for that platform, and even in the case of timed exclusives, the second console can ultimately receive the definitive version, as was the case with the recently released Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare. Personally, I would opt for no exclusives, especially in series like Tomb Raider that have already had entries on multiple consoles. Insomniac’s Sunset Overdrive, while it hurts a bit, is more understandable being a new IP. Also, if it is the developer’s choice (see Sunset Overdrive), that is acceptable but a deal brokered by a first-party company hurts the industry and makes it less about the game and more about the business decisions.
Zarmena: Exclusivity deals per se don’t bother me. I consider them to be a part of the competition. But we need to consider two really important factors here. Firstly, the timing of the deal, and secondly, the franchise in question.
Microsoft has visibly struggled since the mere announcement of the Xbox One. As a company that was once known for its exclusives, Microsoft has failed to bring anything noteworthy to the table this year, and for it to come out of nowhere with an exclusivity deal for a multi-platform franchise like Tomb Raider screams desperation.
Secondly, we’re talking about Tomb Raider. This is a franchise that released its first game on the PlayStation alongside the Sega Saturn and PC, and continued to be a hot title for the PlayStation platforms long before Xbox even came into the picture. Although Rise of the Tomb Raider is only a timed Xbox exclusive, this very decision shows a poor judgment on Crystal Dynamic’s and Square Enix’s part. People can say that PlayStation owners are butthurt all they want, but I’m sure Xbox owners would be pissed off beyond belief if the next Gears of War or Halo game was a timed PlayStation exclusive. Let’s be honest, PlayStation platforms helped sell this franchise and for it to be handed as a timed exclusive to a rival was going to spark furor.
That being said, people need to move on. Instead of hurling abuses and flooding the internet with complaints, vote with your money. I am definitely not purchasing The Temple of Osiris and whenever Rise of the Tomb Raider comes to the PlayStation 4, I know for a fact that I will not be spending a single penny on it. If you can’t do the same, then you lose your right to complain. Just sit tight and wait for the game in that case.
Alex: I understand why Microsoft struck this deal, but do I like it? Of course not! If I was Phil Spencer, I’d have used those resources to fund a studio to make a new IP. But then again, it’s understandable that Microsoft is using Tomb Raider as it’s own Uncharted. This is a quick fix.
Will Sony do the same? Maybe if it had Microsoft’s war chest. But I like to think it doesn’t even need to. Sony’s current first-party output is next to none (yes, even compared to Nintendo’s) and that’s why I don’t think they’re too hung up about this. At the end of the day, though, the people who lose here are the gamers. While Rise of the Tomb Raider will surely make its way to PlayStation platforms at some point, it feels like PlayStation gamers are getting punished for something they didn’t deserve. Let’s not forget that Tomb Raider Definitive Edition outsold it’s Xbox One counterpart 2:1.
However, I don’t blame Phil Spencer for this “money-hatting.” His platform is trailing the competition and he needs to do what’s best for them to recover. I just hope this is the last third-party timed exclusive. It’s one thing for DLC and expansions to be locked in, but it’s a whole other ballgame if it’s the game itself.
I reiterate what I said on Twitter before. If Microsoft came out and announced that the game was “debuting first on Xbox platforms,” people wouldn’t have reacted as badly and the company wouldn’t have gotten this much bad press.
Dan O: There really isn’t much left to say that hasn’t been said already, but when everything comes down to it, gaming is a business. Doing what is most profitable for your product and your company is a balance between keeping your expenditures low and doing something to appease and impress your audience. For a third-party studio to go console exclusive, timed or not, is always bound to piss off, annoy prominent members of the opposing side, and is something that many would agree is bad business practice. But the reality is that most gamers don’t care about what happened yesterday, they only pay attention to today and at best, a few hours into tomorrow.
What this means is that as much as people want to hate X studio for life for ‘abandoning’ them, or becoming ‘traitors,’ it really won’t matter when they finally come back for your money. The only thing that usually hurts sales is a product becoming dated by the time it reaches the other market. A great game is a great game, and the drama behind it is great for forums and terrible websites to instigate fanboyism, but in the grand scheme of things, it really doesn’t matter.
Does it suck to have to wait for a game, or to not have some great game on your preferred console? Yes. But that is life and life goes on.
Do you think the reaction from PlayStation owners to the exclusivity deal was justified? Let us know your thoughts.