Microsoft’s timed exclusivity deal with Rise of the Tomb Raider was shrouded in controversy and caused a great deal of anger from fans. Historically, Tomb Raider is perceived as a Sony property, despite being a multi-platform release and releasing on competing systems like the SEGA Saturn. Many critics didn’t understand why an agreement was reached given the high development costs of the Tomb Raider reboot and sales required to break even. Clearly, Microsoft must have offered a huge amount of funds up front to help with the game’s development.
Despite having the financial support of Microsoft, Rise of the Tomb Raider is performing quite poorly and only sold 63,000 units on launch. In comparison to this, the previous game shipped 183,000 units in the same period. The Xbox One’s limited user-base was undoubtedly going to result in lower sales but this is well below Microsoft and Square Enix’s expectations. This begs the question, why are the sales so poor?
UK sales: Rise of the Tomb Raider < 63,000 (Tomb Raider debuted selling around 183,000 units).
— Erren Van Duine (@ErrenVanDuine) November 16, 2015
The answer is very simple, and revolves around Fallout 4’s hugely successful release. Microsoft underestimated the enthusiasm for Fallout 4 and stupidly launched Rise of the Tomb Raider on the same date. As a result, Fallout 4 received all the major headlines and trended on social media. This is a crying shame, and I cannot comprehend why the game’s release date wasn’t changed. Fallout 4 is probably the most anticipated game since the Witcher 3, and it’s incredibly foolish to try to compete.
Who knows what the future holds for the Tomb Raider franchise, but the sales figures are awful at this time. The numbers will improve as people move on from Fallout 4, and it launches on other platforms. However, the exclusivity deal look to have categorically failed in shifting a large number of units.