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Xbox Couldn’t Produce an Uncharted, So M$ Bought the Next Best Thing

Tomb Raider returned to greatness with last year's reboot, and now it may have to go toe-to-toe with the action/adventure kingpin...
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Let me make this plain:

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I loved the Tomb Raider reboot. While I still think the developers could’ve done more with the storyline (a more realistic, vulnerable Lara Croft was a subject begging for more attention and exploration), it was super fun. It was one of my favorite titles of 2013, no doubt. I got 100% complete and I’d do it again if I didn’t have so many other games to play.

I also don’t care that much about Rise of the Tomb Raider‘s timed exclusivity for Xbox platforms. It’ll eventually come to PlayStation 4 and when it does, it’ll be the “ultimate” or “definitive” edition, undoubtedly. I’m sure I’ll have plenty of other games to play in the meantime.

I do think it’s interesting, however, that Microsoft went and got this particular game.

If you can’t beat ’em, buy ’em

That seems to be Microsoft’s philosophy in all things. The bottom line is that the Xbox platform has never seen a franchise that beats Naughty Dog’s esteemed  Uncharted franchise. That’s not necessarily a slight on Microsoft, either, because nothing has topped Uncharted in my estimation. However, the ironies are everywhere: First, the original Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune was widely viewed as “Dude Raider,” as Nathan Drake was essentially a male Lara Croft. The themes and gameplay were definitely similar.

Of course, Naughty Dog did it better than Crystal Dynamics ever dreamed of doing it. That is, until the latter team really stepped up with the Tomb Raider reboot. It still didn’t top any of the Uncharted games but it was close. For the most part, Uncharted was the highest-rated, most beloved franchise of the previous generation; no other series won more Game of the Year Awards combined. Microsoft’s Gears of War? Nah, not really a competitor (and yes, I played them all).

It was kinda like Uncharted and then everybody else. Hence, Xbox was left out in the cold.

It’s not lame; it’s business

At least, that’s what any Xbox fan or Microsoft representative will tell you. They had the cash to pick up a big timed exclusive, they knew it could rival their competitor’s biggest exclusive franchise, and they made the move. You would’ve done the same thing, as would I. They went and bought the timed rights to the Tomb Raider sequel, knowing full well that everyone would be comparing it to Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. Now, even though Rise of the Tomb Raider isn’t a permanent exclusive like Uncharted, it’ll still go head-to-head in an Xbox vs. PlayStation battle.

This is a good move for Microsoft. None of their first-party studios had the capability to match Naughty Dog’s efforts, so Microsoft went and bought what they needed. It’s not the most noble or creative approach but it works, right? I think we just need to accept that this is precisely what they did: They didn’t have what they needed to compete, so they went out and bought it. Once we admit this, we’ll all feel better.

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A gaming journalism veteran of 14 years, a confirmed gamer for over 30 years, and a lover of fine literature and ridiculously sweet desserts.