Square Enix Talks Rise of the Tomb Raider Exclusivity, Sales, And More

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Speaking with Game Informer, Square Enix’s Head of Western Studios, Darrell Gallagher, discussed the sales of the Tomb Raider reboot, Crystal’s relationship with Microsoft, and the timed exclusivity agreement with Xbox.


Before moving on to the Microsoft discussion, Gallagher addresses the performance of the previous Tomb Raider game. Tomb Raider sold 3.4 million units in its first month, whereas Square Enix were expecting the game to sell 6 million and published a financial report stating that the game had underperformed.


Gallagher says that this was a learning experience for the company, since it made them realize that a game’s measure of success is not necessarily defined by its first month, but rather by long-term sales. At last count, Tomb Raider was at 7.5 million units sold, which the company considers to be a success. [Note: The game broke even in 2013, which Gallagher pointed out in the early part of last year.]


That said, Gallagher says, Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix didn’t wait to see sales numbers of Tomb Raider before starting work on the sequel. The studio and publisher both felt confident about the quality of the game and began planning the next one prior to launch. Gallagher also says that while Rise of the Tomb Raider would exist without Microsoft, the collaboration with the company has been a tremendous asset to the studio, and points out that Crystal have shared a close relationship with Microsoft in the past as well.


“I think it’s been a long partnership so discussions of working with Microsoft have been there since 2008, when we started working with Xbox,” says Gallagher. “Even on [Tomb Raider: Underworld], right? We had a partnership started way back then with some exclusive DLC.”


He adds, “For us, it actually was sort of a long conversation in a way. It was one that was a natural evolution on where we started.”


As far as Microsoft’s role in the game’s development is concerned, Gallagher says the company is providing support and publishing the game. Having a first-party console maker back your game has benefits, he says. Microsoft are providing talent that doesn’t necessarily exist within Crystal Dynamics, as well as providing hardware-specific expertise for Xbox One and Xbox 360 development.


Rise of the Tomb Raider will launch on Xbox One and Xbox 360 this Fall.


Food for thought:

All three console companies have swooped in to pick up third-party games this generation—Microsoft with Scalebound and Rise of the Tomb Raider, Sony with Street Fighter V and Dragon’s Dogma Online, and Nintendo with Bayonetta 2.

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Ishaan Sahdev
Ishaan specializes in game design/sales analysis. He's the former managing editor of Siliconera and wrote the book "The Legend of Zelda - A Complete Development History". He also used to moonlight as a professional manga editor. These days, his day job has nothing to do with games, but the two inform each other nonetheless.