It was revealed this week that Rise of the Tomb Raider would be coming "exclusively" to the Xbox One. I put that in quotes because the phrasing of the announcement left it open for the game to release later on other platforms. Will it? Who fucking knows. I suspect a late PC release is, at the least, very likely. Harder to say with the PS4, based on Dead Rising 3 and Ryse. You won't get a straight answer from anyone involved, in any case. That would be too courteous.
Even if we ignore the series’ long history as a multi-platform title, the whole situation is a big "fuck you" to the fans who – across five platforms – made the 2013 reboot successful. It isn’t just a matter of what is happening, either. Exclusives are fairly common. It’s more the situation surrounding it, and Square Enix and Microsoft’s inadequate reassurances to frustrated fans.
That's what I want to talk about here. Why is this situation different from other "console exclusives"? How have Square Enix and Microsoft made things worse? The outrage might seem over the top, with no one involved able to make so much as a Facebook post without receiving an onslaught of replies from angry fans. But I think the outrage is justified, and both Square Enix and Microsoft deserve every damn bit of the hell they are getting.
Precedents and Expectations
Part of what made this so bad for fans is that it came out of left field. I see some apologists saying this is "just another exclusive", but that's just not true. Rise of the Tomb Raider is the immediate sequel to a game that was on other platforms. It is not from a studio or IP owned by Microsoft. When Rise of the Tomb Raider was announced everyone was right to assume it would be cross-platform, or at least show up on the PS4/One/PC if it wasn't feasible on the PS3/360.
Speaking of cross-platform, let's not forget that earlier this year Square Enix released the “Definitive Edition” of the first game on PS4/One – encouraging people who bought it on PS3/360 as well to repurchase it. I think if someone bought the original game twice it’s not too much for them to expect the immediate sequel to be available to them as well.
Part of the issue here, though, is somewhat unique to Tomb Raider. The reboot was a gritty, personal game about the brutal experiences which forged Lara into the woman she is. It was a story-driven game which left fans with an emotional investment in Lara's fate. The immediate response of fans to the sequel was excitement. Finally, we would get to see Lara's story continue! Then a few months later we were informed that if we didn't own a One we were shit out of luck.
In what other media does this kind of bullshit happen?!
Can you imagine reading an amazing book… then being told you weren't allowed to read the sequel unless you bought a $400 book light? Or if the next season of your favorite TV show was suddenly only viewable if you had Time Warner? What if you could only get in to see Avengers: Age of Ultron if you had an iPhone? Only in the game industry does this kind of bullshit fly. And speaking of flying bullshit…
The PR Bullshit Nightmare
The most utterly in-fucking-furiating thing about this situation is how it has been handled by the parties involved. There have been statements from Microsoft and Crystal Dynamics, but both ignore the two questions everyone is asking:
"Will Rise of the Tomb Raider be released on other platforms?"
"If so, how long will we have to wait?"
Microsoft shoves the question off to Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics, saying that they have nothing to do with whether it is released on other platforms after the exclusivity is up. But Crystal Dynamics will not clarify any of this either. I suspect part of the "deal" was that both the length of exclusivity and other platforms remain undisclosed until after the One gets its sales boost from the "exclusive" release.
The whole tone from both camps has been both condescending and evasive. We know the game will probably come out for other platforms, just fucking tell us already. Nobody likes to have these kind of bullshit PR games played with them, especially when it comes to something they care about.
The worst to me is actually Crystal Dynamics. They actually have the nerve to say that they aren't "walking away from our fans who only play on Playstation or on PC." That is the goddamn definition of what you are doing you lying assholes. These guys are literally sell-outs, having taken Microsoft's money to deny a huge percentage of their fans access to this game.
So yeah. Fuck these guys.
It's Just Business! It's Nothing Personal!
This is what the apologists are saying. It's "just business". We have no right to be angry, after all it's nothing "personal".
But isn't it? These companies lure us into making an emotional investment in their products. They encourage us to form an attachment to characters like Lara. Hell, they spend millions in marketing to make it personal. Yet when they screw us over, we're supposed to suddenly turn that off? We're expected to be loyal fans and customers, but to expect no loyalty in return from these companies? What kind of sick fucking relationship is this? One it's time to get out of, that's what kind.
So here's the deal. I'm going to be passing on Temple of Osiris this Fall I think. And if Rise of the Tomb Raider does come out on PC? Yeah, I'll wait for it to be $10 in a Steam sale. I'm not paying $60 for a game that isn't new.
Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics have not shown any loyalty to me as a fan. Why should I show them any loyalty as a customer?