There’s been a huge fan backlash since Microsoft unveiled next year’s action adventure title Rise of the Tomb Raider as an Xbox exclusive, at least for “Holiday 2015.”
Phil Spencer, boss of Microsoft’s Xbox division, spoke to Eurogamer after the announcement, explaining that the deal helps plug an Uncharted-size hole in the Xbox line-up, even if Rise of the Tomb Raider releases on other platforms at a later date. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End comes exclusively to PlayStation 4 next year and timed exclusivity on Rise of the Tomb Raider (Xbox One, Xbox 360) gives Microsoft something to compete.
“Do I wish I had an owned IP [intellectual property] first-party action adventure game?” said Spencer. “Absolutely. But I don’t right now. This is one that fits well.”
Spencer revealed that he’s a fan of the PlayStation-exclusive Uncharted series, and that Microsoft has tried to make something comparable in the past.
“I’m a big fan of Uncharted,” said Spencer, “and I wish we had an action adventure game of that ilk. We’ve started some, and we’ve looked at them. But we don’t have one today of that quality. This [partnership with publisher Square Enix] is an opportunity.”
Spencer said that Microsoft’s investment in Rise of the Tomb Raider means the game will be at the level of other triple-A titles, with marketing to match.
“I know a lot of people won’t like this,” he said, “but I’ll say it — I think it can be good for the franchise and good for gaming all up because it’s a franchise that’s meant something, and we’re going to be able to work with them and invest and try to put the marketing and everything else at a level, and we’re active in working with them on the development of the game as well, to try to make it one of those franchises that stands out.”
Microsoft does not own the Tomb Raider IP, and Rise of the Tomb Raider is only exclusive to Xbox for a limited period, but Spencer wouldn’t reveal any more details on the timing.
Despite the backlash to the announcement, Spencer insists that the deal wasn’t intended to keep Rise of the Tomb Raider away from PlayStation gamers.
“I want to get this story out there,” he said. “This whole thing that, like, we just somehow found something that Sony fans love and said, ‘Hey, if we just drop millions of dollars then they can’t go play the game.’ That’s not how it played out.”