Xbox One

Xbox’s Phil Spencer Talks Rise of the Tomb Raider Exclusivity


Speaking with Eurogamer, Microsoft’s head of Xbox, Phil Spencer, recently discussed his thoughts on the deal with Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics that will result in Rise of the Tomb Raider being a timed exclusive for Xbox.


“Crystal has been investing in that game and Square has as well, in Tomb Raider as a franchise, and wanting to put it at the highest level, with the big triple-A franchises out there, but that’s expensive,” Spencer says.


“For us, as we’ve been working together on this, it’s a nice franchise for us in terms of the genre and how it fits into our first-party portfolio. Do I wish I had an owned IP first-party action adventure game? Absolutely. But I don’t right now. This is one that fits well and we had such a good working relationship with them.”


“And they want to build that game up to the same level as any of the huge triple-A games out there. It used to a big dominant game. Crystal has done a great job in rebuilding it since ’09, when they started kickstarting it, but continuing to invest at that level, it takes a partnership.”


Spencer also touches upon Microsoft’s relationship with Crystal Dynamics, who, you may recall, have appeared on stage during Microsoft’s E3 conferences in the past.


“You’ve got to remember, we talk all the time. ’09 was the first time we had them on our E3 stage,” Spencer points out. “They were on our stage this year. They were on our stage last year. We’ve worked with them for many years. So it’s not even like a conversation that’s new to us. We’ve got an ongoing relationship with Crystal around this franchise.”


“They’ve seen what we’ve done with certain games out there that aren’t ours. Ryse is another IP. I don’t own the Ryse IP, but I was able to invest with Crytek to turn it into a franchise, which isn’t easy to do for a studio on their own. I don’t own it. They just announced it for PC, and certain people throw stones at me and say, ‘you shouldn’t let it go out on PC.’ I’m like, look, I want Crytek to make money. I want Crytek to be successful. Why would I ever block them from doing something with a game they own?”


Meanwhile, in a separate interview with Kotaku U.K., Spencer also confirmed that Microsoft are investing money in the marketing and development of Rise of the Tomb Raider.


“We will clearly spend money on marketing the game, there’s no doubt about that,” Spencer said to the site. “And we do [that] on games where we have very little to do with development, and with games that we fully develop. And we will definitely be spending money on developing the game – I want to make sure that it’s as great as it can be.”


Rise of the Tomb Raider will be released on Xbox sometime during Holiday 2015.


Food for thought:

Judging by everything that’s been said, it sounds very much like Square want Tomb Raider to be able to compete with larger franchises, and that Microsoft are willing to help them do it, both in terms of development and marketing.


Keep in mind that game development can be incredibly expensive, and that 2013’s Tomb Raider initially didn’t perform to expectations. First-party marketing support can be incredibly valuable for a franchise such as this in the long run. Strong marketing is something that can be beneficial well beyond a game’s window of exclusivity, since it gets more people to take an interest in the title in question. Additionally, first-party support also helps take part of the financial burden off the shoulders of the developer and publisher.

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.