Update #2: Following today's reports about Rise of the Tomb Raider, Square Enix reached out to us to offer an additional statement. The publisher puts to rest one question about the timing around Microsoft's exclusivity arrangement.

“Our partnership with Microsoft on ‘Rise of the Tomb Raider’ does have a duration, but we aren’t discussing those details at this time and are focused on collaborating to deliver a great game on Xbox One and Xbox 360,” a Square Enix representative told us via email. For those of you on PC and PlayStation systems, your hope of playing Rise of the Tomb Raider on other systems lives on.

Update #1: Square Enix has also responded to our request for more information on its relationship with Microsoft.

"Yes, Microsoft will be publishing ‘Rise of the Tomb Raider’ on Xbox," a Square Enix representative told us via email. "Microsoft has always seen huge potential in ‘Tomb Raider’ and they will get behind this game with more support across development, marketing and retail than ever before, which we believe will be a step in continuing to build the ‘Tomb Raider’ franchise as one of the biggest in gaming."

Original Story:

Ever since Microsoft announced at Gamescom that Rise of the Tomb Raider is an Xbox exclusive for Holiday 2015, questions have swirled about what that means. Head of Xbox Phil Spencer later qualified the arrangement a bit, though the complexities of the deal are still unknown.

"Obviously the deal does have a duration,” he told Eurogamer. “I didn't buy the IP in perpetuity."

Yesterday afternoon, Xbox marketing chief Aaron Greenberg told a fan that Microsoft is publishing the game.

We reached out to both Microsoft and Square Enix to get a better understanding of what that means for Rise of the Tomb Raider and players on other platforms. Whether the follow-up to 2013’s Tomb Raider arrives on other platforms still isn’t clear, but Microsoft did put some clarity around the relationship.

“To further clarify Aaron Greenberg’s tweet yesterday, yes, Microsoft will be publishing ‘Rise of the Tomb Raider’ on Xbox,” a representative told us via email. “Similar to how we worked with Capcom on ‘Dead Rising 3’ or Harmonix on ‘Dance Central,’ we’re very excited to partner with the amazing team at Crystal Dynamics to bring ‘Rise of the Tomb Raider’ in holiday 2015, exclusively to Xbox.  Both our team and the Xbox community are huge fans of the franchise and we can’t wait to share more on the game in the future.”

Dead Rising 3 later came to PC. It has not, however, appeared on PlayStation 4, nor have there been any announcements to that effect. Dance Central requires Kinect and appears on Xbox 360 and Xbox One.

We are still waiting on clarification from Square Enix. We’ll update should we receive a response.

[Source: Aaron Greenberg on Twitter]

 

Our Take
The word “exclusive” doesn’t mean what it used to, and there are more permutations of the term than ever before. While Microsoft’s hand in publishing (providing marketing, distribution support, and through an undisclosed arrangement, providing funds for the project) does hint at long-term console exclusivity, it still isn’t clear. 

If Microsoft had tied up the rights to lock Sony out of Rise of the Tomb Raider, you’d think the company would be using that as a selling point. Especially after Sony’s Street Fighter V console exclusivity announcement, now would be the time to be clear.

There is a piece of the puzzle we’re still not seeing. Given the nature of these deals, we may only learn the true nature of this arrangement in hindsight.