Crystal Dynamics ruffled some feathers this morning when they announced Rise of the Tomb Raider would be an Xbox exclusive. Gamers are calling for the company and its parent Square Enix to break that exclusivity agreement.
"Since its origins in 1996, Tomb Raider has been a multi-platform franchise with fans all over the world playing on diverse systems and devices," begins the Change.org petition. "The recent decision to release the upcoming Rise of the Tomb Raider as an Xbox One exclusive alienates the majority of the fan base and will ultimately lead to the demise of the franchise."
"We, the undersigned fans, urge you to reconsider this decision and bring the game out on all three major platforms--PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One--simultaneously."
The petition has picked up signatures at an impressive rate. As of this writing, over 2,400 gamers have signed the petition. They'll need to raise their goal pretty soon.
So, why did Crystal Dynamics make Rise of the Tomb Raider an Xbox exclusive? CD's Darrell Gallagher tried to explain the decision with a letter to fans.
"Today’s announcement with Microsoft is one step to help us put Tomb Raider on top of action adventure gaming," Gallagher said on the official Tomb Raider Tumblr. "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."
The emphasis on "support" and "backing" highlights one benefit to exclusivity. Now that Rise of the Tomb Raider is only coming to Xbox, Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics can count on a lot of marketing help from Microsoft. Think about how much money they threw around promoting Titanfall this year. I'm sure they'd hype the hell out of Rise and make sure everyone knows it's exclusive to Xbox.
The downside is that Rise of the Tomb Raider will miss out on potential sales from PS4 and PC. That's assuming, though, that the game is never released on those platforms. It could be that this exclusivity period is finite and the PC/PS4 will receive the game six months or a year later. That seems to be the case with a lot of "exclusives" from third-party publishers.
Timed exclusivity is, in a way, the best case scenario for Square Enix. They get all of the marketing help from Xbox to make an initial splash, plus whatever other money changed hands to make the partnership happen in the first place. Then, when that exclusivity runs out, they get a second wave of sales through the PS4 and PC versions.
In other words, this petition may turn out to be pointless because the game's coming to PS4 and PC in time anyway. Right now, though, all we know is that Rise of the Tomb Raider will be launching exclusively on Xbox during Fall 2015. With a PS4 and PC release uncertain, it's smart for gamers on those platforms to let Square Enix know that they want Lara Croft's next adventure.