Xbox reportedly paid $100 million for Rise of the Tomb Raider’s timed exclusivity contract. For those who don’t remember, the rebooted Tomb Raider series’ second installment was limited to Xbox One and Xbox 360 for over a year, with the PC version arriving a few months later. This caused quite a stir at the time since the messaging was ambiguous as to whether the game would even be released on non-Xbox systems.
Although exclusive games aren’t rare, creating a sequel to a multi-platform brand was unusual. Coming off the bumpy launch of the Xbox One, Xbox was also in an odd era where the odds were stacked against it, making it difficult for the corporation to portray this decision as a positive.
To make matters worse, the game and Xbox were released on the same day as Fallout 4, a title that generated considerably more buzz and was seen as a monster at the time. Overall, Rise of the Tomb Raider’s first sales were underwhelming, with the game failing to crack the top ten best-selling titles of the month.
To make matters worse, it appears that Microsoft’s Rise of the Tomb Raider agreement with Square Enix was not cheap. Fabien Rossini, a former Square Enix employee, stated on LinkedIn (via Twitter user Timur222) that he assisted in the negotiation of the Tomb Raider contract with Microsoft, which was valued at about $100 million. Given Xbox’s penchant for extravagant spending, this isn’t the most the firm has ever spent on games, but it is a significant sum for a game that didn’t do well at launch.
Rise of the Tomb Raider exclusivity deal with Microsoft was worth $100 million.
Other stuff. pic.twitter.com/BH6TkhI9eL
— Timur222 (@bogorad222) August 30, 2021
Despite the fact that the game didn’t sell particularly well, Xbox may have judged its success based on other variables, such as how many Xbox One systems it was able to sell at the time. It’s also conceivable that Square Enix wasn’t entirely dedicated to continuing the Tomb Raider brand, given that the original game’s sales were disappointing. Xbox may have struck an agreement to help fund a sequel, keeping the franchise from becoming dormant.
Of course, this is just conjecture, but it wouldn’t surprise me. Xbox has invested billions in whole studios, but it’s unclear if these investments have paid out in the long run. It’s possible that it was worthwhile if Xbox got a part of the profits from the PS4 port the following year, but the specifics remain unknown. In any case, it appears like Xbox is moving away from obtaining timed exclusives for large titles and instead opting to buy companies altogether.