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.

About the Author

Alecs Pillik

From his humble beginnings on the N64, Alec's love for video games has flourished across all genres, from RPGs to FPSs. You can usually find him at work, at the Museum of London, out on the football pitch having a kick-around, or at home gaming with his friends. His favourite games include Left 4 Dead, Battlefield 3 & 4, Oblivion, Fallout 3 & 4 and Call of Duty: World at War. If you're on the Xbox One, don't forget to follow his gamertag for some cool game clips!

  • Rethink your argument. I’d ramble on and on, but the question is answered flawlessly here: http : // youth . be /UW-mDVcItSo?t=2m33s

  • Jack

    “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.”

    You’re kidding right? Why would Microsoft make a big deal over this if it’s only a few weeks? I would say it’s at least 6 months, if not a year.

    It’s hilarious how many are making such a big deal about this. Destiny is getting extra content on the Playstation and as far as I know the price will be the same as it is on the XBOX. They too have a timed exclusive deal. Sony also has a timed exclusive deal on No Man’s Sky. This is business and has been this way for a very long time. So until we get a standard format like we see with music and movies this is how things will remain. Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo want you to buy their hardware and will use software as a leverage. It makes no difference where those games come from (1st part, 2nd party or 3rd party), they are called exclusives for a reason. To exclude others. The PC should get all games since it’s the best hardware out there but try telling Sony to allow The Last of Us on the PC. Yeah right, instead they want us to pay $50 again for a better version.

    Little do people forget last generation Square-Enix had exclusive titles on the XBox 360 like The Last Remnant. Do you think anyone will care this much if Silent Hill is excluisve timed or otherwise on the PS4? It’s business and no games are guaranteed to come on any system other than 1st party titles. Even those can get cancelled (PS3 owners won’t be getting The Last Guardian). That is why it’s always a crapshoot what games will come and Square-Enix owes nothing to Playstation or PC owners. You take a risk at what software comes.

    • Alecs Pillik

      Yeah, so maybe a few weeks is pretty unlikely. I don’t think it’ll be more than six months, mind.

      And I completely agree, timed exclusive content and exclusive games have been out for a long time, as I mentioned in the article. Exclusive games, like The Last of Us, started on those consoles so you can make an educated decision that, if you loved the title, you should probably either keep the same console for the sequel or keep with that console developer in the hopes that the sequel comes to that console. I didn’t own a PS3, so I’m not annoyed that Last of Us: Remastered is sticking to PS4; I didn’t expect anything different. And yes, exclusive content has been popular too (it still is, EA are giving exclusive FIFA content to the Xbox One). But, again, exclusive content doesn’t stop you from playing the main game. You can still enjoy Destiny without the exclusive content.

      The difference here is that Tomb Raider is a game franchise that has been cross-platform since it first began. It’s a game series that has been around for years, one that has an incredibly strong following. So what I’m saying is that it’s unfair to go for a timed exclusive on a game that has such a massive cross-platform following.

      You’re right, No Man’s Sky is a timed exclusive deal with Sony. But, once again, No Man’s Sky is a new game, one that hasn’t had well over a decade’s worth of titles in its history. No Man’s Sky looks like a good game, but I’ll be more than happy to wait however long for it because it doesn’t mean anything to me; I don’t have a connection with the game because I’ve never experienced it before. I would be upset if Silent Hill went for a timed exclusive just because it’s a game series that I’ve been playing for years, on multiple platforms, just the same as the Tomb Raider games.

      You’re right, it is just business. But that’s why, if it wasn’t for me owning an Xbox One, it hurts even more – and to be honest it still hurts a little. It just makes it seem as though SE don’t care about their fans, and that’s disappointing. It’s clear that they care about me as an X owner the same as they care about PS owners, because they wouldn’t have chosen the X as the ‘superior’ console – so they only went for the money. I’m not against exclusivity for new games or games that have always been exclusive (I don’t expect Mario to be coming to the Xbox One any time soon), I’m just against games that have been historically cross-platform suddenly choosing a side.

      Sorry for the long reply! I just wanted to try and cover most of your points. At the end of the day, it’s a very subjective issue. If you’re not a fan of Tomb Raider or you own an X1, people don’t seem to care. But I have plenty of friends that own a PS4 and are very disappointed by the move, so I feel bad for them.

      • Jack

        I fully understand the frustrations but again these publishers are not obliged to support any system. People have argued about Bayonetta 2 on the Wii U and the logical reply is that game would not have existed without Nintendo. Who is to say that is 100% accurate? Who is to say Sunset Overdrive may come to the PC or the PS4 even though Microsoft is partnered with that game?

        Final Fantasy never stayed on Nintendo platforms once the original Playstation came out. I get what you’re saying with Tomb Raider, in fact the ip is more inclined to be a Playstation game since that is where it started. But again whose rule book states they have to keep supporting those systems? One thing is for sure, Microsoft has the funding and the willingness to market Tomb Raider, something many Sony fans know all too well in the past Sony did not do a good job of. Of course you and I both know even without marketing it would sell better on the PS4 but when you’re the underdog you have to make bold moves and Microsoft has the money to moneyhat a timed exclusive deal. Don’t blame Microsoft, blame Square for wanting to have this deal and Square has been poorly managed for years so they probably wanted something more secure with Microsoft helping out.

      • Alecs Pillik

        You’re right, and I don’t blame Microsoft. This is entirely down to SE. To be honest, I’d love for games like Sunset Overdrive, Last of Us, etc, to go cross-platform (i know they won’t, but I’m a perfect world kind of guy).

        I think the main problem is that I doubt it’s going to convince many people, if any, to buy an X1 for Tomb Raider and it most certainly isn’t going to force PS4 owners to switch console. I think all it’s going to do is force up the sales of TR on the One/360 and force up the sales of Uncharted on the PS4/PS3.

    • Alecs Pillik

      Oh, forgot about The Last Remnant! You’re right, that was exclusive to the Xbox 360. But that was a new game, same as my argument for No Man’s Sky. You can do what you want with a new game as there isn’t a fan base to think about.

  • Escopablobar

    There is no comparison to be made between Destiny and TR.
    1. Destiny is a new IP. If it started as an exclusive on either platform there would be no argument.
    2. Destiny is a multiplatform IP with timed, “additional” content. The main portion of the game will release day and date on all 4 consoles. This is no different than timed content from COD coming first to XBOX.
    3. TR is a multiplatform game that has released multiple iterations on multiple platforms. There were no indications that sequels would be made exclusive, temporary or otherwise, to any one platform. Such a move is very disruptive. Fans on all platforms expected the play at the same time. Again, Destiny is a brand new IP with which there can be no expectations.

    TR is an entertaining series and I was disappointed that it is a timed exclusive. I’m over it now. I just do not want to see deals like this become the norm moving forward. Neither Sony nor MSFT should buy exclusivity to ongoing multiplatform games. This doesn’t benefit gamers one bit. I think XBOX fans would have preferred to receive a brand new IP rather than exclusive timed access to a game they were going to get anyway. This was not money well spent. This is an example of politics and competition at their worst.

    • Gregg

      I completely agree! I would have much rather seen MS invest in a new IP action adventure game than spend money on TR. Not only is it unfair on other fans, but it is also pointless as, as you said, people were going to get it either way.

      Furthermore, it just makes MS seem a little petty, like they’re mocking Sony fans because they’ve taken away their candy. It’s not going to convince any Sony fans to buy an X1, I’m sure they could wait a year to play TR, and they’ll just end up playing Uncharted instead. If anything, it’s just going to bode well for Sony and the Uncharted devs/publishers because now they’re going to get discruntled TR fans buying their games too!

      • Alecs Pillik

        That’s pretty much how I feel about the whole thing, too.

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