Whether it’s to be a timed exclusive or not the announcement by Microsoft, at Gamescom, that Rise of the Tomb Raider will only be seen on the Xbox at initial release is leaving many gamers angry and frustrated. As someone who has played both the initial Tomb Raider release and the recent ‘definitive’ edition I totally understand their reaction. If this is the shape of things to come with the future of marketing for titles then I believe anger and frustration are not nearly enough a reaction.
Segregation of the modern gamer
Exclusivity is not a new thing to the land of the pixel. I, like many of you, find it hard to remember a time before so much of the marketing of a new IP was focused on which gamer will be able to play it. It has become a relative norm to expect at least one or two new IPs to be fashioned to either the Xbox, PlayStation or PC. Sometimes even a combination of two of those three. What has become a rarity is an IP released as a multiplatform title initially only to then become an exclusive to a particular platform upon release of its sequel.
In the case of Tomb Raider, Crystal Dynamics have indicated that the foundations of the partnership with Microsoft stems back to E3 2011. I say ‘oh really!’ Honestly…pulling the wool over gamers eyes isn’t as easy as it once was. Today the use of the Internet and social media means we are all more aware of the dealings that use to be hidden away behind closed doors. There’s really no way a statement of collaboration can disguise the fact that money is a strong factor in the decision of any exclusivity. It’s a very dangerous game to be playing considering that sales of Tomb Raider were significantly better on the PlayStation platform than the Xbox one.
Exclusivity means two things to Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix: an injection of money and a more controlled marketing plan. For Microsoft it means that they can dangle a carrot while hoping to snare some sales for their poorly marketed next gen console. Let us not forget the misguided attempt to pass the Xbox One off as the ‘entertainment hub’ that it truly isn’t and all the backtracking Microsoft has done since the consoles release.
To me Rise of the Tomb Raider shouldn’t be an exclusive; timed or not. As gamers we all had the opportunity to experience a rebooted Laura Croft adventure in Tomb Raider. A game that received plenty of praise and became the fastest selling in the history of that franchise. The decision then to make the sequel an exclusive for one platform grates against those achievements and feels like a bloody nose to gamers in general. This whole situation stinks of whoring oneself out to the highest bidder while giving the faint promise of time to everyone else once the goods have been soiled.
If I had any influence over my fellow gamers (and I know I don’t) then my advice would be this: boycott the game! Show that as a consumer you still have the power to dictate what you want to play and when you want to play it! As gamers we shouldn’t be at the mercy of whimsy and misguided marketing!