When Crystal Dynamics announced the official release date for Rise of the Tomb Raider on November 10th, 2015, this created a bit of contention with an already crowded line up for Xbox gamers this fall. The current lineup of major AAA games has this September with Metal Gear Solid 5, Mad Max, and Forza Motorsport 6. Rainbow Six Siege, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, and Halo 5 round out for October. And for November, we have Rise of The Tomb Raider and Star Wars Battlefront. Having Tomb Raider come out November 10th would be a great release date with about 2 weeks clearance of Halo 5, except for 1 tiny little game with a small following coming out on the same day; Fallout 4.
Up to this point, including the definitive versions of the 2013 reboot and digital copies, Tomb Raider has sold 8.5 million units. Fallout 3 on the other hand, has sold 9.5 million according to VGChartz which does not include digital sales and doesn’t have any next-gen versions available. And before you get your game cords all tangled, yes Fallout 3 has been out longer than Tomb Raider, but both PS4 and Xbox One versions were included already in that sum. So in an already crowded market, Rise of the Tomb Raider will initially release only on Xbox One and Xbox 360 alongside a hugely anticipated game that’s multiplat. While Microsoft may not care about just how much Tomb Raider sells, Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics surely do.
The other aspect that Tomb Raider will be unable to experience sharing a release date with Fallout 4, is post release game coverage. After a games release, they can pick up additional sales based on post release reviews, gameplay from big youtubers, walkthroughs, the Xbox activity feed, and tips and tricks videos. It creates a sort of peer pressure for gamers to get on the same trend based on what everyone else is playing. This sort of coverage really helps push along extra game sales and having a split release, people are going to be torn between Fallout 4 and Rise of the Tomb Raider with post release coverage most likely going to Fallout with its quirky side quests and Easter eggs.
Don’t get me wrong, I want Tomb Raider to sell as best it can, but November 10th is not the date to release it. And Microsoft may already know it. Currently, you cannot digitally pre-order Rise of the Tomb Raider unlike Halo 5, Fallout 4, and Star Wars Battlefront which may be a sign of insecurity with the release date. If they do decide to change the release date, and depending on how far along the game is in development, they could make Rise of the Tomb Raider extremely successful and possibly extend the timed exclusivity deal with Square Enix for future installments.
Now if the game is nearly done in terms of development, the first half of October would be excellent with 2-3 weeks before Halo 5 and plenty of time for coverage. Or if the game isn’t quite ready, they could delay it to November 17th or 24th just in time for the Black Friday rush in the US, especially if they offer it bundled in with a new console. They would be able to pick up some impressive holiday sales numbers on opening week and encourage a future timed exclusive deal in the future.
I want both games to be successful and get the attention they deserve, but as it’s extremely unlikely for Bethesda to move Fallout’s release date, it’s time for the good of Lara to move the release date of Rise of the Tomb Raider. It would be the best thing for everyone to play these games and give each one the time in the sun they deserve, but sometimes we need to concede the battle to win the war.