3 Odd Things About The Tomb Raider Xbox One Exclusive

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3 Odd Things About The Tomb Raider Xbox One Exclusive

Rise of the Tomb Raider as an Xbox One exclusive just seems odd on a few levels. We'll let Shamus explain.

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Shamus Young:
3 Odd Things About The Tomb Raider Xbox One Exclusive

Rise of the Tomb Raider as an Xbox One exclusive just seems odd on a few levels. We'll let Shamus explain.

Read Full Article

Deals like this are why I'm convinced Microsoft is actively trying to torpedo the Xbox as a thing. It simply doesn't make any sense otherwise, no matter how I slice it. Microsoft has to spend enough money that Squeenix sees the large short-term and small-moderate long-term drop in sales as worth it, but then they go and piss away the vast majority of what they just bought. It makes no sense to me.

I can see Squeenix taking the deal, it's not exactly a secret how poorly they've been doing lately, and an infusion of several million dollars, if not more, would be very welcome to them. I just can't see any reason why Microsoft would make the offer in the first place and then handle it the way they have.

Seems simple to me: Microsoft is getting desperate for anything to increase XBone sales, and Squeenix needed some fast cash.

Platform exclusive deals are about altering the risk/reward profile. You might potentially lose profit over the long term but you do get a guaranteed lump sum now. AAA games are fairly capital intensive and if you step back and view the publishers portfolio as whole you might want to reduce the risk on the portfolio and ensure cash flow by accepting an exclusive deal. Any large business tries to have different risk profiles across its offerings. Ideally you you want everything to be low risk/high reward but in the real world that isn't possible, so you have low risk/ low reward to high risk/ high reward profiles.

The only reason Microsoft announced that it was a timed exclusive is that it was so obvious, everybody knew it the moment the news was out. But I bet that Microsoft wasn't counting on that. The whole deal seems so short-sighted, it boggles the mind that adult businessmen could think that it's a good idea.

So how many Xbones can Microsoft sell because of this deal? Not enough to justify paying for it. I'm sure of that. Tomb Raider is good, but it's not a system seller, especially since the cat is officially out of the bag.

They did not do this to sell Xones they did it to make their press conference seem like the Xone was awesome with lots of exclusive content.

Rabidkitten:
They did not do this to sell Xones they did it to make their press conference seem like the Xone was awesome with lots of exclusive content.

That would have been covered by something like at E3 where MS neglected to announce that MGSV was coming to non-Xbox platforms at thier conference.

gigastar:

That would have been covered by something like at E3 where MS neglected to announce that MGSV was coming to non-Xbox platforms at thier conference.

In fairness, Sony also tried to make it sound like the next-gen GTA V was only coming to PS4 and not XBox One.

But the most bizarre thing to me is that that this sort of thing works - there really are people out there who will buy a $400 console so they can play a $60 video game. I love this game as much as anyone (see the first paragraph) and I'm even willing to buy the game again for a small graphical upgrade. But there's no way I'd buy an Xbox One to play it - not even the recently discounted Kinect-free version. But clearly there must be people who do that sort of thing, or else deals like this wouldn't exist.

In fairness I don't think anyone is claiming Tomb Raider is going to be a massive system seller, I think that with lots of games coming in September/October time and after that Christmas, it's reaching the point where lots of people who have been holding off getting a next-gen console are going to take the plunge. Microsoft wants to make sure they plump for the XBox and, given there's not too much to separate them at the moment, having an extra exclusive (albeit still not out till 2015) might swing it slightly (I'm not saying its going to work, just that's maybe the thinking) Rise of the Tomb Raider was probably the cheapest AAA game they could find (or rather offered most bang for buck in whatever spreadsheet projection they were using).

Does the TR HD update even have any advantage over the existing PC version?

As for exclusivity, it is rarely absolute. Yes, some people will consciously buy a console just to play a particular game. But mostly it's about rationalization. Say I start to look at the xbone in relation to TR. Then I notice it has a couple of other interesting exclusive games (Halo or whatever) and I rationalize that if I buy the xbone, I can play those other games as well. Or I can find some other reason.

Or it can actually be quite rational - say I'd like to play 10 games this year, with 3 of them being exclusive to xbone, 2 for the PS4 and 5 are multiplatform. If I want to buy a console right now, then the xbone has an advantage even when one of those exclusives are only for a limited period.

The marketing people probably have this figured out - not saying they are right, it's certainly a lottery but they probably had their reasons, as stupid as they may be.

Like a lot of Xbox's marketing moves, what should have been a positive on their end blew up in their face as a massive PR nightmare.

Here's the thing... even Xbox owners are claiming to be upset (myself included), because this doesn't benefit us either. We were going to get the game anyway. So rather than invest in their OWN stagnating and struggling properties and studios, and improving Xbox owners' experience, they spent those millions simply denying other people fun instead.

This isn't new. Someone brought up the fact Microsoft spent over $400 million securing the rights to an exclusive NFL app for Xbox... the same amount of money Rockstar and 2K Games spent making Grand Theft Auto V.

Microsoft uses money like a hammer, and views every problem as a nail.

They invest in "names" but not in talent. They bought Halo but let Bungie go because they wanted to work on something new (Destiny now the most pre-ordered game in history). They bought Gears of War, but Epic moved on (Gears of War: Judgment didn't light up the charts). They bought RARE and have simply sat on Conker, Perfect Dark, Banjo-Kazooie, Jet Force Gemini, Blast Corps., Kameo, and Battletoads.

This is going to hurt the Tomb Raider franchise, right when it was FINALLY gaining momentum again, and it's not going to convince people to pick up an Xbox One. If anything, like the over 10 million PS4 owners, 80 million PS3 owners, and 70 million Steam owners, it makes non-Xbox owners angry and bitter at the company. It doesn't motivate them to buy a system; it motivates them to hold a grudge against them for taking away a series they loved.

This happened with Resident Evil going exclusive to Gamecube for awhile. Spoiler: it didn't work out. Nintendo hoped the millions of Resident Evil fans would buy the system and get some hardcore gamers onboard. Resident Evil fans didn't show up. The games were the worst-selling in the series, outsold by PS2 spin-offs instead. They lost a lot of money, and Capcom overhauled the whole thing to have less scary elements to reach a wider audience and recoup losses, damage the brand still hasn't recovered from. Gamecube sales did not pick up.

Microsoft apparently didn't study their history.

I would be willing to bet the first advertisement period is going to be paid for by Microsoft, with the second covered by Square Enix.

The first point rings the truest to me. Why would you slash your consumer base so badly with a game that, while it was pretty good, was not a ground-breaking hit like they wanted? I simply cannot fathom it.
The third point is also a very good one. Why would Microsoft willing shoot themselves in the foot by saying that the exclusive is a timed one? That made me very happy, because I intend to buy a PS4 first, and as such I can simply wait until this game is released on my preferred system.

If Microsoft really wants to sell Xbox Ones so badly that they are making crazy money decisions, then I suggest they find some way to make 360 games work on it. That would get me to buy one instantly. I could play my old games on the new system, not have to worry about losing more space because it would just go where the 360 was, and when a game comes out, I would be ready to go.

"But the most bizarre thing to me is that that this sort of thing works - there really are people out there who will buy a $400 console so they can play a $60 video game. I love this game as much as anyone (see the first paragraph) and I'm even willing to buy the game again for a small graphical upgrade. But there's no way I'd buy an Xbox One to play it - not even the recently discounted Kinect-free version. But clearly there must be people who do that sort of thing, or else deals like this wouldn't exist."

This happens with themed console bundles all the time I know enough people who have to have the special coloured console to have 4 working 360's and don't get me started on the legions of Japanese DS/3DS owners who buy the special edition console play the game then sell it for 30% of what they paid after a week then go and do it again with the next themed handheld.

Sgt. Sykes:
Does the TR HD update even have any advantage over the existing PC version?

That's what I wondered too. I had gotten the impression that it was essentially a port of the PC version with all the settings cranked up. Stuff like tessellation and TressFX that the older systems couldn't handle. Especially TressFX - I've always suspected that they partnered with AMD on that because they knew that AMD would be producing the CPUs and GPUs in the current-gen consoles, but didn't realize the release dates on them were still so far away.

Since Squeenix spat in my face with this deal, there is no way I am going to buy their game when it arrives on PC. And who knows, maybe not the next either. They have distanced themselves from me. The customer. It baffles me that this kind of thing does not seem to have a long lasting effect.

One should think brand-recognition and reputation was important. Especially in a field that lives and breathes on the internet, where rumor (and not to mention rage) travels at the speed of light.

Not too long ago I pre-purchased Witcher 3. I dont know much about it, I know it will be open world, and I'm a bit skeptical about that. But I love the work of CD Project, I loved their previous games and last, but not least I love their policies as a company.

I like them. I am a fan. That makes it easy for me to decide to buy their products. Hell, I've bought a lot of stuff on gog.com just to support them. This is the kind of goodwill you cant buy for money. You have to WORK to EARN it. How the hell it can be long-term financially viable to squander the goodwill of ones fans...I just dont get.

Shamus Young:
Snip

I was with you up until you got to point three. Specifically...

"but for Microsoft there was nothing to be gained and everything to lose by coming out and admitting that you won't need to buy an Xbox One to get the game. It undercuts the only thing they have to gain in this deal: The potential to sell consoles."

You see I think MS had more to lose by trying to keep it a secret. Perhaps the only thing MS learned during the initial Xbone release was that misinformation bordering on straight out lies will, more often than not, lead to general distain and bad will from the public resulting in a devastating income loss. If they had not said anything and SE were the ones to break the news everyone would roll their eyes and say, "Typical MS, telling us a lie and then doing a 180." The chance to show themselves as the honest up front ones may very well have been worth the cost to buy a limited exclusivity deal.

This reeks of desperation. Microsoft is getting pummeled this generation because their console is a bit shit and costs more. They try to turn this around with trickery rather than making their console genuinely better to develop for or more user friendly.

This will not end well. For one, I'm dedicated to not giving the Xbox One a single cent. I'd rather wait a few months and get a superior version of the game than pay for a crappy version to go with a crappy console and pay 10 times as much.

Sarge034:

You see I think MS had more to lose by trying to keep it a secret. Perhaps the only thing MS learned during the initial Xbone release was that misinformation bordering on straight out lies will, more often than not, lead to general distain and bad will from the public resulting in a devastating income loss. If they had not said anything and SE were the ones to break the news everyone would roll their eyes and say, "Typical MS, telling us a lie and then doing a 180." The chance to show themselves as the honest up front ones may very well have been worth the cost to buy a limited exclusivity deal.

But they HAVEN'T been upfront about it. They've, in fact, contradicted their messaging on this about a half-dozen times, and they specifically commented on this issue THREE times, muddling the issue further and further. Even Sony is joking about it at their expense.

I mean, compare and contrast:
Sony: "Hellblade is coming first to Playstation 4."
Microsoft: "Rise of the Tomb Raider is coming Holiday 2015, exclusively on Xbox One."

Sony was clear and upfront. Microsoft only admitted the deal had "a duration" after the collective internet threw a huge ball of hate their way demanding clarification.

Sgt. Sykes:
Does the TR HD update even have any advantage over the existing PC version?

Take a look:
http://www.ign.com/videos/2014/01/28/tomb-raider-complete-graphics-comparison-ps4xbox-onepcps3xbox-360

I notice that they have changed Laras' face a bit. Look at the radio tower comparison about two minutes in. PC Lara is just a high res version of PS3/360 Lara. But PS4/xbone Laras have remodelled faces. It's not a clear improvement, but it's not simply inferior to the PC version either.

Shamus Young:
But the most bizarre thing to me is that that this sort of thing works - there really are people out there who will buy a $400 console so they can play a $60 video game. ... But clearly there must be people who do that sort of thing, or else deals like this wouldn't exist.

Nobody buys a console just to own the console. It's always about games. And most people don't actually play all that many games. So, a single must-play game can easily swing a decision. They're not necessarily paying the full $460 for one game.

Heck, when I saw Homeworld, I went right out and bought a $1500 computer. Sooner or later I was going to do that anyway. But it certainly pushed my schedule up a bit.

I'm curious if the following hypothesis holds any weight:

What if this whole thing is Square Enix, wary of poor launch sales of the last Tomb Raider not meeting their quarterly estimates, decided to offer limited exclusivity to Microsoft allowing them to justifiably set a lower sales estimate considering the smaller install base. After the exclusivity is lifted, they can then relaunch on the other consoles without adjusting their estimates while still operating on a different quarter and then consolidate those sales numbers into their already lowered launch estimate.

This would allow Sqare Enix to get a little extra money from Microsoft, buffer their launch window, and spin their sales numbers up for their shareholders.

What do you guys think?

Pyrian:
Nobody buys a console just to own the console. It's always about games. And most people don't actually play all that many games. So, a single must-play game can easily swing a decision. They're not necessarily paying the full $460 for one game.

Heck, when I saw Homeworld, I went right out and bought a $1500 computer. Sooner or later I was going to do that anyway. But it certainly pushed my schedule up a bit.

True, but even as somebody who owns an Xbox One, I have almost no incentive to buy Rise of the Tomb Raider for Xbox One. The last game was VASTLY superior on the PS4 and PC, with nearly double the framerate and significantly higher resolution. Even with an Xbox One, I would tell people to wait it out for the superior version of the game, because the Xbox One version was the worst performer out of the next-gen platforms.

There's always someone with boatloads of cash to spend $460 for just one game, but the majority of gamers aren't that hardcore, and Tomb Raider in particular just doesn't have a strong enough fanbase to rationalize jumping ship like that.

History proved that when Resident Evil went exclusive to Gamecube for awhile. Resident Evil was a bigger franchise at that point than Tomb Raider was now, coming off of being some of the best-selling Playstation games of all time. Nintendo and Capcom expected Resident Evil fans to simply migrate to the Gamecube... but it didn't happen. The games were GREAT, mind you, but millions of fans did not suddenly buy Gamecubes. The games, in fact, were the worst-selling games in the series, Gamecube sales did NOT improve, and Capcom lost so much money they overhauled the whole series to reach a wider audience to cover the losses, losing some of the horror elements hardcore fans loved, and the series still hasn't fully recovered from that decision. The plan did not pay off and Resident Evil fans simply chose to not buy the games on a system they weren't interested in, and instead bought spin-offs like Outbreak instead (which outsold the Gamecube games that were supposed to be the main releases).

Microsoft apparently never studied their history if they expect to do the same thing, on worse terms, with a worse deal, with a lesser property, with 10+ more years of PC and Playstation franchise history mucking up the proceedings.

Sarge034:

You see I think MS had more to lose by trying to keep it a secret. Perhaps the only thing MS learned during the initial Xbone release was that misinformation bordering on straight out lies will, more often than not, lead to general distain and bad will from the public resulting in a devastating income loss. If they had not said anything and SE were the ones to break the news everyone would roll their eyes and say, "Typical MS, telling us a lie and then doing a 180." The chance to show themselves as the honest up front ones may very well have been worth the cost to buy a limited exclusivity deal.

The desire to seem more transparent is probably a good point; but it comes across as a bit "indecisive"; as Shamus mentions these sort of deals are always vaguely anti-consumer, we lose from them (except I suppose if you take the absolutely big picture view and say that these deals make the industry work) overall. So according to your view their strategy is: "Hey, we're being vaguely anti-consumer... but at least we're being honest about it!"? Does that come out as a net PR gain? Maybe? I do agree, transparency is probably what they're going for, but it's still a bit odd in my book.

Trishbot:
This happened with Resident Evil going exclusive to Gamecube for awhile. Spoiler: it didn't work out. Nintendo hoped the millions of Resident Evil fans would buy the system and get some hardcore gamers onboard. Resident Evil fans didn't show up. The games were the worst-selling in the series, outsold by PS2 spin-offs instead. They lost a lot of money, and Capcom overhauled the whole thing to have less scary elements to reach a wider audience and recoup losses, damage the brand still hasn't recovered from. Gamecube sales did not pick up.

Microsoft apparently didn't study their history.

That is an excellent point that I don't think has been picked up as well as it should be.

While I don't think the Xbox One has as big of a gap to the PS4 as the Gamecube to PS2 had but this is still an almost perfect example.

Resident Evil isn't a system seller to the masses (for example, something like Call of Duty where people will buy a system and ONLY play Call of Duty on it) and I feel like Tomb Raider is in that same exact boat. It's not going to be a system seller to the masses. If a gamer wants to play Tomb Raider and have even the slightest amount of patience, they have no reason to force themselves onto a system that they may not want.

It might catch a small group of people who really want to play Tomb Raider but don't want to wait but I feel that overall, history is coming back around.

If you'll humor me, I'd like to summarize this entire article into a "TL:DR" image. Notably, one that covers the discussion at hand as well as explaining Microsoft's behavior over the past year or so.

From what has been said in other places, it does have the opportunity to help both Square Enix and Microsoft, Square Enix gets a batch of money out of the deal and sells the game to a market that doesnt have a direct competitor (Uncharted 4 will be released at the same time) while Microsoft gets people that own both consoles to buy the Xbox version.

When people get tired of Uncharted 4 then this Tomb Raider comes out to PS4 getting that new fresh free publicity push (new reviews, news about the release, etc...) to get the word about the game still active so that people dont forget about it and skip to the next big thing.

I really dont see this game being a system seller, I think that for the interest of Microsoft its just getting people to buy their version. Not that this is exactly a good thing but it would be wise of Square Enix to delay the release to not compete directly with Uncharted and since they can release the game on a console that doesnt have that issue then fine.

Adam Jensen:
The only reason Microsoft announced that it was a timed exclusive is that it was so obvious, everybody knew it the moment the news was out.

I'd wager we only "knew" it because The idea of tome raider being an "actual" exclusive was....unbelivable

and while it surprised no one that it was timed....it did make the decision as a whole seem even more non sensical...kind of like a paradox

Vigormortis:
If you'll humor me, I'd like to summarize this entire article into a "TL:DR" image. Notably, one that covers the discussion at hand as well as explaining Microsoft's behavior over the past year or so.

chimps have more buisness sense than that...

Trishbot:
But they HAVEN'T been upfront about it. They've, in fact, contradicted their messaging on this about a half-dozen times, and they specifically commented on this issue THREE times, muddling the issue further and further. Even Sony is joking about it at their expense.

I mean, compare and contrast:
Sony: "Hellblade is coming first to Playstation 4."
Microsoft: "Rise of the Tomb Raider is coming Holiday 2015, exclusively on Xbox One."

Sony was clear and upfront. Microsoft only admitted the deal had "a duration" after the collective internet threw a huge ball of hate their way demanding clarification.

File that under "Stuff I didn't know." I have been out of the loop for about three months now so I was simply commenting on what information the article presented. However, that changes my opinion very little. I still believe someone at MS looked at this and thought it would be a great way to set up a situation in which MS can "show" us that they've changed and are listening to us and blah blah blah.

Retsam19:
The desire to seem more transparent is probably a good point; but it comes across as a bit "indecisive"; as Shamus mentions these sort of deals are always vaguely anti-consumer, we lose from them (except I suppose if you take the absolutely big picture view and say that these deals make the industry work) overall. So according to your view their strategy is: "Hey, we're being vaguely anti-consumer... but at least we're being honest about it!"? Does that come out as a net PR gain? Maybe? I do agree, transparency is probably what they're going for, but it's still a bit odd in my book.

My view isn't that MS are saying, "Hey, we're being vaguely anti-consumer... but at least we're being honest about it!" my point is that they are probably saying, "We are following standard industry practices AND we're trying to be up front about it." It was probably a carefully crafted PR stunt, stupid and anti-consumer make no mistake but crafted none the less.

I'm glad it's an exclusive. I don't have an XB1 so I won't even have to consider buying a follow up to a shitty game which was beyond all shittiness, and whose shittiness will most likely be carried on to its sequel. I'm a casual Tomb Raider fan (as in the series) and if you pick any TR game it's at least 100x better than the reboot. Considering the reboot's popularity, I expect no better from the sequel.

My take is that the key angle for Microsoft here is that Christmas/Holiday release date. It's for the uninformed consumer, when parents are looking to pick up a console for their kid/teen, this puts a recognizable name in the bag for microsoft to waive around as an Xbox One 'Exclusive'!

Goes in line with the impression I get from the Xbox One marketing. With one disaster after another and getting their asses kicked by Sony, it seems they've adopted a 'see no evil here no evil' stance. Just ignore everything around you, and continue to pitch the Xbox as America's #1 entertainment platform! We even have NFL! Just keep enthusiastically saying something and even if it's false sometimes ignorant people may start to believe you.

I don't think this will work out as Microsoft intends it to. People will just wait for the game on their chosen system. Besides, given the current (abhorrent) trend of gating content, the PC and PS4 versions will likely ship with any Tomb Raider DLC that gets released as some sort of "limited" edition release.

A few years when I started a new job with a better pay I decided to buy a new console. It was a choice between the Xbox360 and the PS3 - I had friends who played both so I knew I'd have people to play with on either system that I knew, but I couldn't decide. Then I read that Fable 2 was coming out as an Xbox360 exclusive.

Being a huge fan of the first one, I didnt even hesitate, bought the 360 that same day.

Granted, my case does not represent the majority but its an example where a console was bought based on an exclusive title (though I should stipulate it was not bought _just_ to play that title).

I also cant help but feel that there may be something else in the works that will coincide with release, be it a new film or a new feature on the Xbone. Time will tell I guess.

The problem is you're thinking logically. If MS were being logical then they wouldn't have ended up with their whole Xbone fiasco and put themselves into this situation. They are panicing and desperate for anything they can use to try to entice people to buy their shitty console.

Shdwrnr:
I'm curious if the following hypothesis holds any weight:

What if this whole thing is Square Enix, wary of poor launch sales of the last Tomb Raider not meeting their quarterly estimates, decided to offer limited exclusivity to Microsoft allowing them to justifiably set a lower sales estimate considering the smaller install base. After the exclusivity is lifted, they can then relaunch on the other consoles without adjusting their estimates while still operating on a different quarter and then consolidate those sales numbers into their already lowered launch estimate.

This would allow Sqare Enix to get a little extra money from Microsoft, buffer their launch window, and spin their sales numbers up for their shareholders.

What do you guys think?

I hold a similar theory, which is that, scared by Tomb Raider's initial lower than expected, Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics wanted to lower a sequel's (in early development at that stage?) financial risk to themselves. Therefore, they approached Microsoft to help fund Rise of the Tomb Raider. Microsoft, of course, wanted something in return for their investment and the two parties ultimately agreed that the game would be released on Microsoft's consoles for a certain period before the rival platforms.

In my theory, Microsoft are not necessarily the bad guys, and Square Enix/Crystal Dynamics are companies too easily spooked and hold too little faith in their intellectual property.

Your theory, that this is a trick Square Enix are playing on their shareholders, is kinda plausible and it similarly accuses Square Enix of having too little faith in their intellectual property.

If Square Enix are going to prosper as a company they need to make sound business decisions. That means doing market research to ensure that their IP will be bought by the consumer and it means acting on that market research.

The thing I keep wondering about is why it seems they were trying to be deliberately misleading and vague about the whole thing. The statement from CD/SE made it sound like a permanent exclusive by way of offering the sequel to GOL as some sort of appeasement to those on the other platforms.

It read very much like "we gave this exclusively to Xbone but you other guys still have this different game to look forward to". Which doesn't directly imply that you would never see Rise on other platforms but is suggestive of it all the same. IIRC it was in a sentence or paragraph talking about how they weren't turning their backs on fans on different platforms, why not just mention that you only had to wait a little longer then? Surely that says "we're not ignoring you guys" better than pointing to a totally different game. I'd imagine Microsoft may have had terms preventing them from saying it was only a timed exclusive but then MS were the ones who told us it was.

And in Microsoft's case they have previously been careful to use words like "coming first to Xbox One" when announcing timed exclusives, but not this time. Why? To sell some units you would suppose but then Phil Spencer comes out and tells everybody it was in fact a timed exclusive after all so what did they gain apart from some bad publicity?
All this and the whole mess that was the Xbone launch really has me wondering what the marketing and PR department are thinking. Are they just trying to stir up controversy for the sake of headlines or have the screws just come so loose from pressure that they think there is no such thing as bad press?

Oh and why no mention of how long the period of exclusivity lasts? Why so vague? It only serves to annoy people. I wish game journalism had an equivalent of Jeremy Paxman, somebody who would grill Phil Spencer or Major Nelson so we could get past the corporate speech and find the root cause of this odd behaviour.

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