When I first heard about the Tomb Raider Definitive Edition for next-gen consoles, I wasn’t too surprised. After all, it’s not abnormal for a developer to produce a shiny new version of an existing game for new hardware.
However, the more you learn about the situation, the more skepticism begins to form in your mind…
Consider the following factors and then decide if this upcoming “Definitive Edition” only exists because of Square Enix’s seriously screwy business plan. There’s something amiss here, despite all the appreciated upgrades we’ll see in the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One iteration.
This sucker cost over $100 million?!
There’s no doubt that Crystal Dynamics did a great job with this reboot. But I had no idea that Square Enix helped to pump over $100 million into the project. As much as I loved the game, I’m not sure it played like $100 million, and I’m quite sure that was way over budget. This led to the totally wacky sales expectations: Square Enix wanted to sell 5-6 million units in the first month. I’m sorry, but unless your name is Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed, Battlefield, Madden, or Grand Theft Auto, that’s probably not realistic.
Tomb Raider is an iconic name in the industry, but we’re talking about a reboot. The franchise had been on the wane in recent years and in fact, we hadn’t seen a really good Lara Croft adventure for a long time. Had I been at the helm, had I been involved in producing the budget for this project, there’s no chance in hell I’d invest over $100 million.
Amazing sales and still no profitability, so…
This is precisely why it took most of 2013 (after launching in early March) for the title to reach profitability. The game did manage to sell 3.4 million in the first 30 days, which is downright fantastic, and should’ve been more than enough. But because Square Enix seemingly muffed up this whole process, developer Crystal Dynamics couldn’t turn a profit until freakin’ December.
Hence, the answer: A new version for next-gen consoles to help further defray the insane cost. The developer has made a lot of noise about how the Definitive Edition is more than just a visual upgrade and a lot of the enhancements and improvements do sound impressive. I’m certain it’ll be the elite version of that game.
Is it worth $60, though…? Maybe, maybe not. It’s $60 because in truth, they need to make more money on this game. Yes, they say they started working on it the minute the PS3/360 version hit store shelves.
You have to assume, though, that everyone involved knew costs were outrageous. They must’ve known that it would’ve been a challenge just to break even. Had the game not hit big, they never would’ve broken even. Therefore, this new edition for next-gen consoles screams two words: Damage control.
Nobody blames you, Square Enix
No, definitely not. I mean, you clearly mismanaged this whole affair (at least, you did in my estimation), but you’re taking the necessary steps to right the ship. Crystal Dynamics probably did a bang-up job with the upgrade. It may not be worth $60 to those who already played it, but it’s worth that to those who didn’t, right? Besides, for collectors like myself, who want the best versions of great games in their libraries, they might end up springing for the best possible iteration.
At the same time, I’d appreciate you not being so obvious. Just admit it. It’s okay. The game cost too much, your initial sales expectations were totally out of whack, and you really were flirting with disaster. Things are looking up, though, and now you’ve got an opportunity to earn a bit more. If the consumer responds, great. It’s justified.
That all being said, I still feel somewhat… manipulated. I’m not mad about it, though. It’s more amusing than anything.