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gamescom 2015

The Divisiveness Of The Tomb Raider Reboot Led To Microsoft's Timed Exclusivity

by Mike Futter on Aug 05, 2015 at 12:28 PM

I had the chance to sit down with Square Enix America and Europe president and CEO Phil Rogers to discuss Rise of the Tomb Raider, the 2013 reboot, and the confusing early days of Xbox timed exclusivity. I found out that not everyone was on board with the new adventures of Lara Croft.

"It was a big decision for us," Rogers says. "The reboot of Tomb Raider was a fascinating journey for us. I'm not saying it split the company, but in many ways when you're trying to reboot a franchise that's got the history of Tomb Raider, it does divide opinion. We took it in a very fresh direction. I think that at the end of the day, the accolades that we got with Tomb Raider (2013) were great. At the time, not everyone felt that way."

It turns out that Microsoft's support of this new vision for the classic franchise played a part in the timed exclusivity. "One big group that we always felt helped us was Microsoft," Rogers says. "They've been close friends of Tomb Raider since the reboot and reimagining of where we could take Lara Croft and Tomb Raider. So, the evolution of this relationship deepening with the timed exclusive is a very natural one for us, but a tough decision."

That decision led to confusion last year, as Microsoft's Phil Spencer would only discuss the Holiday 2015 exclusivity and Square Enix was mum. While the writing was on the wall that Microsoft had only locked the title up for a period of time, the lack of explicit confirmation fueled debate amongst fans.

Last month, Square Enix broke the silence. What struck us as odd with the announcement of the Spring 2016 PC and Holiday 2016 PlayStation 4 release dates was that they came before the Xbox versions launched. It turns out that Microsoft and Square Enix jointly made the decision to demystify the plans.

"For us it was about making sure there was no confusion," Rogers says. "The message today is to listen, and where we have questions do our best to answer them. We felt at some stage, with Microsoft hand-in-hand, that we'd be best off now that this is the date we're aiming for with PC and we have a 12-month exclusive on console. We just thought that was in everyone's best interest, for gamers to understand that."

Rise of the Tomb Raider, which received a new trailer at Microsoft's Gamescom briefing, will be out on November 10 for Xbox One and Xbox 360. For more on the title, check out our coverage hub from March 2015.