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Internet Witch Hunts and Rise of the Tomb Raider

The internet loves a good ol’ fashioned witch hunt, one with flaming torches and raised pitchforks.  We might see these moments of civil unrest a lot in games, but they happen elsewhere.  Watch a few hours of SportsCenter, read some celebrity gossip tabloids, when it comes to people and choices we know nothing about, we love to jump to conclusions.

In many ways, Xbox’s Rise of the Tomb Raider exclusivity claim was at the wrong place at the wrong time.  In a summer which has been starved for big AAA titles, in a time when Xbox is lagging behind Sony (moreso in mind-share than in actual numbers), and at a moment when millions of viewers were watching — Twitter already open, Xbox said something which made a lot of people angry.  And the internet let them know it in spades.

To be honest, I never knew there were so many hardcore Tomb Raider fans out there.  I guess it shouldn’t be that surprising, given Lara Croft’s decade-plus reign as Queen of the Video Game Female Protagonists, but the reveal of the sequel during E3 didn’t really spark any exciting conversations or speculations.  We all enjoyed Lara’s fun, albeit trite, romp through an island inhabited by giant samurai warriors and crazy marooned murders, it was okay, but I don’t think anyone would describe it as incredible.  I am sure there are people out there who list Tomb Raider as their favorite franchise, but it lacks the fanaticism of Halo, Metal Gear, or Zelda.  Or at least I thought it did.

So a ton of people got steamed at hearing Tomb Raider would be exclusive to the Xbox One.  But, as it turns out, it wasn’t exclusive, it was simply was a timed-exclusive.  I don’t know if that changes the way people feel –maybe (probably) not —  but here’s why you should just calm the hell down and chill out when it comes to exclusive vs. non-exclusive vs. who gives a shit.

Let’s pretend this was the worst case scenario.  Rise of the Tomb Raider was going to Xbox One with no intention of going back.  Why is that a bad thing?  Because you were an early adopter of the PS4 or you have a PC?  Maybe you’re concerned about the financial future of Crystal Dynamics,  using the, “if Tomb Raider sold ‘poorly’ what would happen when those poor numbers were limited to Xbox users?” argument.

We can speculate at the money Xbox paid or didn’t pay to lock up Rise of the Tomb Raider as an exclusive, but no business has ever made an exclusive deal because they wanted to.  Often times when a studio or publisher who’s fallen on hard times (what is Square Enix’s cash cow these days?)  and they are made a Godfather-style offer, “[they] can’t refuse”, it becomes a lifeboat for an uncertain project.  Clearly, Square Enix wasn’t happy with the way the first Tomb Raider performed (as they mentioned a few times), so when Microsoft came a-knockin’, they were all ears.

Maybe you don’t trust Square Enix, or maybe you’re just peeved.  That’s fine.  Is it shitty for PlayStation and PC, sure it is, it’s a total bummer people who have invested in those consoles won’t get the next Tomb Raider.  But Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix don’t owe you another Tomb Raider game on your console of choice.  They don’t have to put a poll in the field to find out where the most Tomb Raider fans are.  They are a company and business whose first priority is to help their employees and shareholders.  Maybe the deal isn’t great, maybe it is, we don’t know, but my guess is that Square Enix has a better idea than we do.

People got upset yesterday and started pointing fingers at Square Enix because we need something to be upset about.  And Microsoft seems to be a safe punching bag as of late.  When FROM Software brought Bloodborne to Sony as an exclusive, people didn’t get upset.  Instead we said it was good move to attract fans of the developer.  When Sony locked up a deal to allow Far Cry 4 players a chance to share the game with their friends for a limited time, no one said a peep.  We think it’s okay for Sony to have exclusives and special access because they’ve done it longer and better than Microsoft.  But we don’t expect that from Xbox, that’s not part of the script, we don’t expect that from Tomb Raider either, and when things don’t go according to plan, fans go crazy.

So why did Microsoft use the word “exclusive” when it’s really a timed exclusive?  Because they don’t give a fuck about accuracy.  It’s like asking why McDonald’s doesn’t post their nutritional facts on the front door.  It’s not Microsoft’s job to educate the press or gamers on when/if Rise of the Tomb Raider comes to Sony — that’s Sony’s job.  Sorry, Microsoft didn’t go over the asterik of their deal, but maybe we don’t post or comment about announcements until we get the whole picture?  I know we can’t.  We react.  We’re the internet and we have to say how we feel in the moment.  But it doesn’t make us sound intelligent, doesn’t get us what we actually want.  It just sounds like a lion roaring at the zoo, sure it’s loud and ferocious, but it’s still behind two feet of concrete and totally harmless.

Attacking Crystal Dynamics, writer Rhianna Pratchett, and voice actor Camilla Luddington, won’t help make Rise of the Tomb Raider available on all platforms.  Sticking your head in the sand and wondering why exclusives happen doesn’t help either.  While they might play nice on Twitter, Sony and Microsoft would do anything to try and out maneuver the other.  Exclusives might suck for you, but it’s feather in the cap of businesses who use them to position sales.  You don’t like them?  Don’t buy them.  It’s really that simple.  Gather the facts, make an informed decision, and then react like a responsible and intelligent human being.  Jumping to conclusions and screaming doesn’t make the situation only more enjoyable, it just make you look like an ass.

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