Xbox exclusivity could elevate Tomb Raider - Spencer

Exec says partnership could make franchise bigger, confirms deal made to have an answer for Uncharted 4

Last week, Microsoft announced that Square Enix's Rise of the Tomb Raider would be exclusive to the Xbox 360 and Xbox One for its holiday 2015 launch. The news sparked some ire among PlayStation-owning fans of the series, an outcome Xbox head Phil Spencer told Eurogamer was not unexpected.

"I knew there would be some push back when we came out," Spencer said. "Certain people won't believe this: it doesn't come from an evil space. It comes from a space where there's an opportunity that maps really well with what we need in terms of the genre, and a partner that's looking for a partnership. Other people can do the deal, but it was a deal that fit well with us. And I think it could help the franchise in the long run and help Crystal and Square and us."

When asked if the exclusivity deal was about giving Microsoft an answer to Sony's PS4-exclusive Uncharted 4, Spencer freely admitted it.

"Totally. I'm a big fan of Uncharted and I wish we had an action adventure game of that ilk," Spencer said. "We've started some, and we've looked at them. But we don't have one today of that quality. This is an opportunity."

He added that Microsoft probably wouldn't do such a deal for a sci-fi shooter or racing game, considering its first-party portfolio already boasts franchise like Halo and Forza in those genres. Spencer stressed that Microsoft wants its partners to do well, and directly competing like that wouldn't make sense for them. The Tomb Raider deal, on the other hand, is something Spencer believes will be a "win/win" for both Microsoft and Square Enix.

"If you're one of the people who wants to make noise around the game you have, there are opportunities out there to partner with platform holders, with sponsorships and other things to make it big," Spencer said. "This was one of those opportunities for Crystal and Square, and I think it can help take Tomb Raider and make it even bigger. We want it to be big, given what we have coming to the Xbox in the way it is."

Related stories

Microsoft: "Representation isn't just good common sense, it's good business sense"

At the DICE Summit today, Phil Spencer urged the industry to pursue diversity and inclusivity or risk missing out on the growth opportunities to come

By Matthew Handrahan

Microsoft gaming business up 8%

Xbox One X launch drives year-over-year revenue growth for the holiday quarter

By Brendan Sinclair

Latest comments (10)

Russ Cogman Senior Game Artist, Serious Games International3 years ago
The Uncharted franchise is exclusive to one platform. Playstation.
The wording "Exclusive to the holiday launch" is loaded and it remains to be seen just how exclusive it is.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
I can't disagree @Russ Cogman.
Microsoft has to move, it's clear to me that they can't keep things as they are, but they need to do more than just pay for small and timed exclusives.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Andreia Quinta Photographer, Studio52 London3 years ago
They should have invested in a new IP. Franchises like these don't pop out of nowhere, someone invested in them to become huge like uncharted, pretty obvious stuff. Plus the start of a new console gen being the perfect time to invest in new ideas.

MS has the financial backbone for it, so why lock into Tomb Raider when anyone in the loop knows it's not a system seller? And sad to say It might never be due to the female lead being unapealing to the dude/bro crowd, along with a multiplayer mode that seemed to be blue-tacked in there.
2Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Show all comments (10)
Nelsun Rivera Mixed Media 3 years ago
Unchartered was released in 2007. 7 years and this is the best you can come up with? Uncharted 2 came out in 2009. 5 years ago. This I would say is when the IP took off and I would think that that would have been the time for MS to look into an answer to the Uncharted series. Purchasing "exclusivity" is an illusion. This deal has effectively eliminated the PS fanbase from the TR franchise. For a time? We shall see.

No matter how they word it, explain it etc... This was meant to be a blow to PlayStation. To me it just blows.
2Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Steve Wetz Reviewer/Assistant Editor, Gamer's Glance3 years ago
The idea that Xbox One exclusivity helps Tomb Raider as a franchise is laughable. I don't even know who they expect to lap up this nonsense.

Just tell us you did it because you needed a big title for your lower-than-expected selling system. Or even better, say nothing. Putting out such obvious lies just shows how little you respect your customers.
11Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 3 years ago
Today's list of "things that could have gone slightly better"

(1) Being quoted with a subjunctive in the headline.
(2) Suggesting the presence other people when there are none (Nintendo exclusive? Steam exclusive?)
(3) Claiming that one would not have done this with a SciFi shooter, when one just did exactly that with the SciFi shooter Titanfall.

Baby steps, I guess, baby steps.
4Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany3 years ago
I can only think in the joke running a few days ago in the internet:

They made TR exclusive because they want the franchise to become Uncharted: giving the low sales of XOne compared to other platforms, the game most likely will not appear in a single chart in the world.
1Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Paul Jace Merchandiser 3 years ago
"Totally. I'm a big fan of Uncharted and I wish we had an action adventure game of that ilk," Spencer said. "We've started some, and we've looked at them. But we don't have one today of that quality. This is an opportunity."
I get what Phil is saying. What it comes down to is that, while Microsoft would love to have an action adventure game in the vein of Uncharted, they readily admit they don't and perhaps won't, either due to capabilities, time, or any of a number of other reasons. And instead of making a half ass game to compete(not unlike Sony's half ass attempt at making Killzone games, and then Resistance games, to try and compete with Halo) they decided to grab an already well established franchise in that genre to compete. It makes perfect sense from that context.

However, one has to wonder why they wouldn't have already tried to create a first party game in this genre to compete with Uncharted. But to me this is more of a compliment to Naughty Dog, basically saying that their franchise is so good that it may not be able to be touched, just like no Sony fps series will ever be able to touch Halo.

This also gives more credence to his "coming exclusivly to Xbox in 2015" announcement. If all goes as assumed that exclusivity window is only for a year. In that case not only would the game come out for other platforms(namely PC and PS4) the following year but when it comes out on PS4 it won't be directly competing against Uncharted 4 head to head. And I bet thats precisely what Crystal Dynamics intended all along. And thus this partnership was born.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paul Jace on 20th August 2014 2:06am

2Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Nick Wofford Hobbyist 3 years ago
Paul and Phil raise a good point. I doubt that Square needed much bribing since Sony made their flagship game of Holiday 2015 a game that's sure to steal any thunder TR would've had on that system. And that mistake isn't a new one for Sony. I can't imagine how Insomniac felt after Sony screwed the pooch on Resistance marketing, and then proceeded to make their own FPS that would directly steal from Insomniac's product.

Competing with 3rd parties isn't a great way to make them happy. There's a reason that Halo is the game that it is; it's a non-serious, non-military, arena shooter. It doesn't compete directly with CoD, Battlefield, etc... And that makes Activision and EA very happy. I wonder how EA/Activision felt about the PS4 launch, where the only game that was any good was a military FPS? Probably not thrilled, to say the least.
1Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Paul Acevedo Games Editor, Windows Central3 years ago
Another think we need to consider is that Phil came in late and saw Microsoft didn't have a game like this in the pipeline. They can make a new IP in the same genre, but they can't just pop it out of a hate. It will take a few years from when Microsoft originates the project. So the decision to make Tomb Raider a timed exclusive was a way to lock in a game of that genre that will definitely sell and will arrive a lot faster than starting a new game from scratch.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply

Sign in to contribute

Need an account? Register now.