After rebooting again last generation, the Tomb Raider franchise is moving on to the next sequel, Rise of the Tomb Raider. Announced back around E3 time, the gaming community assumed the game was headed for the new generation platforms and PC, but this morning at Gamescom, Microsoft turned heads and riled up the fans by announcing that the sequel is to be a Xbox exclusive. That's enough to make news, but what's really keeping people talking today is that thanks to some unspecific and nebulous language, nobody's quite sure how long this exclusivity will last. Rise is due on the Xbox One exclusively for Holiday 2015, but that doesn't mean that Rise of the Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition for the Sony PlayStation 4 isn't six months around the corner from then. It's all speculation right now until someone on the inside of the deal decides to talk; I've heard compelling arguments from both sides. Here's a statement from developer Crystal Dynamics:
As you may have seen, we’ve just announced that Rise of the Tomb Raider, coming Holiday 2015, is exclusively on Xbox. We consider all of you to be the lifeblood of Tomb Raider and the work we do at Crystal. I’d like to give you some insight into this decision, and why we feel this is the very best thing for the Tomb Raider sequel we’re creating at the studio.
Tomb Raider in 2013 was a success due in large part to your continued support. Our goal has always been to deliver something truly special with Rise of the Tomb Raider. Today’s announcement with Microsoft is one step to help us put Tomb Raider on top of action adventure gaming. Our friends at Microsoft have always seen huge potential in Tomb Raider and have believed in our vision since our first unveil with them on their stage at E3 2011. We know they will get behind this game more than any support we have had from them in the past - we believe this will be a step to really forging the Tomb Raider brand as one of the biggest in gaming, with the help, belief and backing of a major partner like Microsoft.
That's quite the bombshell of an announcement, one that few people saw coming. On paper, it makes sense from a business perspective. Microsoft gets a big exclusive for the holidays to help sell consoles and compete with Sony's Uncharted 4 due out around the same time. Crystal Dynamics and publisher Square-Enix get a nice payment to keep the game on the Xbox platform which will surely please investors. Interested Xbox One owners can play the game as they'd originally planned. Owners of other platforms are the losers here, but assuming this is timed exclusivity and not a lifetime deal, the game will turn up elsewhere sooner or later. Of course, the community is pissed, petitions are circulating, and the immature fans are throwing around death threats as usual. Just another day in the gaming industry.