Rise of the Tomb Raider’s Launch is a Very Dumb Idea

Rise of the Tomb Raider reviews are out, and the game has received a very positive critical response. With Microsoft having secured the rights to make the game a “timed exclusive,” which basically means that it will release on the Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PC before it presumably graces the PS4 and PS3 in the future, it was set to be one of the company’s heaviest hitters of the entire year. It was to be another feather in the cap of what has been a strong year for the Xbox One, with the likes of Halo 5: Guardians having convinced many consumers to pick up the new console. But that arguably and won’t the be case.

Microsoft has paid out what can safely assume was a large amount of money to Square Enix in order to snag the timed exclusivity right to Rise of the Tomb Raider, but here’s where things get more than a little dumb: the game was given the release date of November 10th, 2015. That’s tomorrow, and is coincidentally the same date that Fallout 4 will be released, a hugely anticipated follow-up to one of the most popular games of all time. Rise of the Tomb Raider doesn’t have a chance of toppling Bethesda’s post-apocalyptic RPG, and if Rise of the Tomb Raider wasn’t a well-reviewed game that was the subject of a major exclusivity deal, then we’d all suggest that it had been sent out to die.

MicrosoftLineup

Microsoft were proud of themselves after securing exclusivity rights to Rise of the Tomb Raider.

While Rise of the Tomb Raider isn’t exactly doomed – it will likely garner the runner-up spot in video game sales charts at the end of this week – it’s certainly not being given a fair crack at establishing the rebooted Tomb Raider series as one of modern gaming’s most exciting series. Not only has the game’s player base been significantly decreased by cutting off PS4 and PS3 owners, it’s also been lumbered with the same release date as Fallout 4, and that’s without even mentioning that reviews for both games have both been embargoed until today. This means that there will inevitably be less people reporting upon/reading about Lara Croft’s new outing than they would if the game was released on almost any other day, and stands as yet another dubious decision in what is one of the more questionable video game launches of the entire year.

Unfortunately, it seems very likely that the decision to release Rise of the Tomb Raider alongside Fallout 4 will have a negative impact upon the future on the series. Square Enix had previously stated that sales numbers of the 2013 Tomb Raider reboot had underwhelmed them, despite it shifting an impressive 3.4 million units in its first month. If the publisher was disappointed by this number, then limiting its sales to Xbox consoles/PC and launching it on the same day as arguably the most highly anticipated game of the year isn’t exactly going to spell greater fortune for the series, and could well put a potential Rise of the Tomb Raider follow-up in jeopardy.

But these are all assumptions. What we do know is that releasing Rise of the Tomb Raider on the same day as Fallout 4 will cause it to generate less sales, which makes Microsoft’s decision to make the game a timed Xbox exclusive all the more baffling. If Microsoft wanted to really push Tomb Raider as Microsoft’s equivalent to the upcoming Uncharted 4: Thief’s End, which is what it was initially being pitched as, then they haven’t given it a particularly good shot at succeeding.