Published on August 22nd, 2014 | by Alecs Pillik
The unfair nature of Tomb Raider’s exclusivity
I’m an Xbox One gamer and I’m a massive fan of the Tomb Raider series, having loved the exploits of Lara since its first release on PC back in 1996, but I’m not happy about the next Tomb Raider title’s timed exclusivity. Unlike some gamers, I don’t revel in the fact that I’ll be playing a game before other people and, to be honest, I’m not fond of the general idea of exclusivity as a whole. Tomb Raider is a beloved games series for thousands of gamers and it’s one that found its roots on Sony’s PlayStation, so I don’t think it’s fair in the slightest to keep other fans waiting for a game from a series that has made a generation.
To me, timed exclusivity is a bit insulting to the fans. It suggests that Xbox owners are more deserving of the newest Tomb Raider title than PlayStation fans when, in reality, there is no difference. There are some game series, like Tomb Raider, that have been popular cross-platform titles for years. Series like Call of Duty, Battlefield, FIFA, Madden, Assassin’s Creed and WWE have been popular with PlayStation and Xbox gamers alike and, whilst some might release timed exclusive DLC, they’ve always been readily available in the whole on most competing consoles. These sorts of games bond fans, they break down the barriers of platform and allow gamers to connect over games that they all enjoy. None of this “Uncharted is better than Gears of War” or “Halo shits all over KillZone”, games like Tomb Raider were loved no matter which platform you chose; that’s what made them so special, they were the old faithfulls. I can understand when new titles are exclusive, like The Last of Us or Titanfall, but when a beloved series suddenly goes exclusive, that’s where I draw the line.
The sad thing is, I know exactly why Square Enix decided to opt for Xbox exclusivity; Microsoft paid them to do so… I mean, why else would they go for it? It’s not because they love us Xbox fans more than our PlayStation compatriots, and I doubt it’s because they think that the Xbox One is the better console. It’s all about the dollar. But, in the end, it’s the gamers that suffer. There hasn’t been any reference to how long people will have to wait for the game. It could be a month, it could be a year. Still if I were a gamer on another console, I’d feel pretty pissed off. I think I’d also feel somewhat betrayed and ignored; the last thing a publisher should be doing is isolating its fan base.
Exclusivity isn’t a new thing, it’s been around for generations. I mean, Mario and Sonic are the kings of exclusivity; with Sonic being created as a direct result of Nintendo’s success with the little Italian plumber. To me, that’s understandable, the big consoles need something to draw people towards their product and exclusive content can do that pretty well. It’s OK when developers start a game on a specific console, because that way they’ll always have their fan base focused on that one platform; it’s better when they decide to go multi-platform, however. I just don’t like it when a game goes from cross-platform to exclusive. Imagine if the Call of Duty series suddenly decided to go PS4 only? Or if EA decide that FIFA should only be available on the Xbox One? Obviously, Tomb Raider has been confirmed to just be a timed exclusive. Still, it feels like a kick in the balls for the fans. Why should they be forced to wait, just for choosing one console over the other? Especially when there was no hint over an exclusive deal after the success of the first Tomb Raider reboot. I just feel really bad for other gamers. I know that I’d be incredibly upset if one of my favourite game series, like FIFA, decided to go for a timed release on a console that I didn’t own – even more so after years of cross-platform titles. Even if it was just an extra month of waiting, I’d still feel pretty let down by the publishers (and slightly by the developrs depending on how much say they have) after years of buying their games.
I would imagine that the timed release is probably only going to be an extra month’s wait, maximum. In all likelyhood, it’ll probably only be a couple of weeks wait for the game. Square Enix would be stupid to go for anything much longer, and I doubt Microsoft would be willing to fork up the full amount that Square Enix would need to warrant over a years exclusivity. Still, this isn’t about the the wait, it’s about the principle behind the wait. Even a wait of a week is still a little insulting to Sony fans, or Mac fans, or WiiU fans (assuming it might come to those guys). I just feel bad for those gamers, and sad that this is happening in the gaming industry. I’m sure it won’t be the last, considering that Minecraft was also supposed to be a timed launch exclusive on the PS4.