Microsoft announced at the Gamescom trade show today that Rise Of The Tomb Raider, the sequel to last year’s Tomb Raider reboot, will be exclusive to the Xbox One and Xbox 360. Well, except nobody actually said that—instead of calling Rise an exclusive, Microsoft executive Phil Harrison said that the new game is “coming holiday 2015, exclusively on Xbox,” as Engadget reports.
That might sound like the same thing, but you’re probably a normal human being who believes that the English language is primarily a way to convey meaning rather than to obscure it. Video game marketing types, however, view adverbs, prepositions, and the like as little houses where bullshit goes to live. If Rise Of The Tomb Raider were only going to be released on Xbox consoles, Microsoft would probably say so. It would be big news, after all! But they’re not saying so. Instead, this might be—and probably is—a timed exclusive, meaning that after a while, Rise publisher Square Enix will be free to release the game on other platforms. Microsoft doesn’t want you to know that, naturally, since Tomb Raider fans are less likely to buy an Xbox One if they know the game is coming to, say, the PlayStation 4 a year later. And thus you get the tortured, obfuscatory “holiday 2015, exclusively on Xbox” phrasing.
In essence, Microsoft has paid Square Enix not to tell players what their non-Xbox release plans are. Anticipating the inevitable backlash, Square Enix subsidiary Crystal Dynamics—which is developing the new game—posted an update on its official blog to explain the first-release exclusivity. (The blog post does not actually explain anything, as the whole deal is premised on not explaining things.) “As you may have seen, we’ve just announced that Rise Of The Tomb Raider, coming Holiday 2015, is exclusively on Xbox,” writes studio head Darrell Gallagher, adopting the contractually mandated pseudo-language. He goes on to characterize the announcement as “one step to help us put Tomb Raider on top of action adventure gaming” and “a step to really forging the Tomb Raider brand as one of the biggest in gaming.” If it seems like Gallagher is repeating himself and may have suffered a head injury, don’t worry, he’s just padding his word count: Industry custom holds that a player-unfriendly announcement like this one calls for at least 300 words of pretending to care.
In the end, Rise Of The Tomb Raider will probably come out later on PlayStation 4 and maybe the PC as well, and everyone will get to play it, and everything will be fine. For now, we should all be patient and not ask questions because Square Enix and Microsoft have brands to forge.