Why an Xbox Exclusive Tomb Raider Could Be Bad News for Future Female-Led Games
Whether you’re an Xbox fan boy or a dedicated PlayStation gamer, today’s Gamescon news that Rise of the Tomb Raider will be an Xbox exclusive probably came as a shock. The reaction was so strong that “Rise of the Tomb Raider” shot its way to the top of Twitter’s trending topics list and article comments quickly filled with speculative discussion.
Square Enix’s unorthodox decision has many people asking, “Why?" - and with good reason. The studio wasn’t shy about their disappointment in Tomb Raider’s initial sales in 2013, and when Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition was released in 2014, the game sold twice as many copies for the PlayStation 4 than it did for the Xbox One. It’s also worth mentioning that the PlayStation 4 is currently outselling the Xbox One 3-to-1. So why would Square Enix decide to release Lara Croft’s next title exclusively for the losing member of the console war?
The obvious answer is money. Fair enough. But while it seems that the only people who lose in this equation are PS4 and PC gamers, a console-exclusive Tomb Raider is actually bad news for anyone hoping to see more female characters in Lara Croft’s vein.
Lara Croft is inarguably one of the most recognizable female characters in video game history, and in an industry where strong female characters are few and far between, she’s incredibly important. So what happens when the industry’s strongest female character gets her audience essentially cut in half? Fewer people are exposed to her story and in turn, fewer people ask for more characters like her.
Not to mention that if the the game sells poorly, it'll further contribute to the myth that female-led games just don't sell. True, the game’s exclusivity may lead people to go out and purchase an Xbox One (myself included), but judging by the reaction on Twitter, a substantial number of people are simply throwing their hands up and saying “Oh well.”
@tombraider Way to sell out Square Enix. You really think people will buy a Xbox One for this? lol jokes on you— Hansuke (@Hansukei) August 12, 2014
Sorry, but not sorry Microsoft, as much as I want to play the new Tomb Raider game; still not going to buy an Xbox One.— Dani (@elaenastark) August 12, 2014
There’s always a chance that Rise of the Tomb Raider will be released for other consoles at a later date, but for now all we can do is wait. In a blog entry posted shortly after the announcement was made, Crystal Dynamics Head of Studios, Darrell Gallagher cited Microsoft’s unwavering support and the studio’s aims to “put Tomb Raider on top of action adventure gaming” as their reasoning for the exclusivity. I certainly hope it works out because if Lara goes down, future support for strong female-led games may go down with it.