But then, few gaming franchises cull the kind of widespread loyalty and devotion that Tomb Raider has—or at least had, right up til the moment that Square Enix announced this morning at Gamescon that Rise of the Tomb Raider, the long-anticipated sequel to last year’s franchise reboot, will only be made available on the Xbox One.
That means that owners of desktop gaming consoles or the PlayStation 4 will be out of luck when it comes to experiencing the next arc in hero Lara Croft’s most recent journey, and that many fans of the franchise will be left empty-handed when the game is released next Christmas.
The news has sent fans around the world into a collective apoplexy. Three separate Change.org petitions have been created today alone in response to the fiasco, and fans seem to be universally outraged over the decision–except for the lucky ones who own an Xbox.
“Hello Microsoft, this is Square Enix. We were wondering, do you know any ways we could at least halve sales of Tomb Raider? … You DO?!”
— John Walker (@botherer) August 12, 2014
Tomb Raider’s creator, Crystal Dynamic Studios, issued a clarifying statement on Tumblr that only made things worse. Citing the wish to make Tomb Raider a leading gaming brand, the company issued no apology and stood by its decision. The post has received over 5,000 comments since this afternoon.
“You may as well give Final Fantasy and all the rest to Microsoft too. Will not be buying any more of your products!” wrote commenter Darren McCoy in a response that seems extremely typical of the opinions fans have voiced across the Internet.
“65 MILLIONS STEAM ACCOUNTS, 10 MILLIONS PS4 SOLD. AND U DO AN EXCLUSIVE FOR XBOX ! FUCKING XBOX!!” echoed commenter Mesho. The second half of their comment is unprintable.
Adding insult to injury, the studio insisted that fans who wanted cross-platform compatability could simply play this year’s upcoming Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris, which will be available on multiple consoles. But that series is unrelated to the main Tomb Raider storyline, and is designed as a supplement to the main game, which fewer fans will be able to access.
Meanwhile, to the chagrin of fans, PlayStation announced today that it had sold 10 million units of the PS4.
Tumblr user makoraider summed up the disappointment and betrayal of fans, particularly those who had stuck with the franchise over the years:
I’ve been one of the most devoted TR fans on the planet since the age of 2 years old and I’m literally ready to abandon ship. I’ve spent years staying up to date on the series, buying ALL of the games on PS3, PS2, PC, PS1, and even on my phone, and yet I couldn’t give two shits about a TR game exclusive to the Xboneyourwife. The fanbase has been revived for the first time in years and now they’re almost literally saying “fuck you” to everyone off of Xbox, effectively killing off any progress they’ve made. And besides that, Square Enix was disappointed with Tomb Raider 2013’s sales. How will making it an exclusive help that? This is honestly the worst decision I’ve seen in gaming in a LONG time.
The move seems to be exclusionary on a number of fronts. At least 50 percent of Nintendo’s overall player demographics are women, while only 38 percent of Xbox’s are. The Xbox-only release could marginalize women within the culture even further—and from the game perhaps most associated with empowering female characters, no less.
“This ‘announcement’ is heartbreaking for me in a way that I can’t even describe,” wrote Tumblr user darthredfield earlier today.
Sure, Tomb Raider is just a video game but to me it is/was (however you want to look at it) so much more. I remember every night before bed my mom would load up the old school PS and let me watch her play Tomb Raider until I fell asleep. It was my lullaby, my bed time story; my safety blanket so to speak. It was how my mom and I bonded back then. It brought us closer, and that teeny tiny hour was the highlight of my whole day….
I honestly never knew that I could feel such disgust, hatred, and sadness for something so tiny.
It truly hurts.
So, this girl,
who since the announcement has been looking at all things TR to get the latest info on the game like a fucking kid at Christmas, for the first time in her life is refusing to buy a Tomb Raider game
And so the console wars continue—and now it has a brand-new battlefield for fans to die on.
Update: Microsoft has now confirmed the exclusive release will be for a limited duration only. Xbox head Phil Spencer told Eurogamer earlier today that the release “has a duration” period, but declined to say for how long it would be.
Illustration via halli-well/deviantART