PlayStation 4 and PC owning fans of Lara Croft can finally rest assured that they'll be able to play Square-Enix's Rise of the Tomb Raider, as the company has officially announced release dates for the game on those platforms:
Rise of the Tomb Raider will be available for Windows 10 and Steam in early 2016. The game will be a console exclusive to Xbox One and Xbox 360 for one year after its initial launch, coming to PlayStation® 4 (PS4) in Holiday 2016.
Square-Enix also notes that Crystal Dynamics--the Rise of the Tomb Raider's primary developer--is "leading development ... for additional platforms," presumably to assure consumers that these ports will be up to snuff.
In the year since Rise of the Tomb Raider was announced last E3, there has been a lot of mystery around the details of the game's exclusivity deal with Microsoft. First, it seemed that the game might only ever be playable on Xbox One and PC. Then, in an interview with Eurogamer, Microsoft's Phil Spencer clarified that "the deal has a duration," but couldn't offer specific details on the length of that duration. Things got even murkier in December, when Square-Enix released a statement confirming that Microsoft would be publishing Rise of the Tomb Raider on Xbox One, and explaining that the company would "get behind this game with more support across development, marketing and retail than ever before." While today's announcement doesn't explicitly say who is publishing Rise of the Tomb Raider on the PS4, I have to imagine that Square-Enix will be handling that internally.
It's interesting to think about Rise of the Tomb Raider's timed exclusivity alongside another major console exclusive release: Street Fighter V. When SFV was announced, Capcom announced that the game would be "produced in partnership with Sony," which left some room for interpretation regarding the terms of the exclusivity deal. But over time it became clear that Sony was actually publishing the game, and in an interview with GameSpot's Tamoor Hussain, a Capcom representative shut the door entirely on the possibility that Street Fighter V would appear "in any iteration," on Xbox One:
"One comment we see a lot is that something like a Super Street Fighter 5 is going to come out on Xbox. But the reality is that this is a real partnership. We are console exclusive for this franchise for this numbered run."
Console exclusivity has changed a lot over the years. What used to simply be about locking down content for a company's platform has changed as the market has become increasingly competitive: When a company like Nintendo, Sony, or Microsoft pairs with a developer to keep an interesting project alive, we all benefit--it seems possible that we'd never have gotten Street Fighter V without the deal between Capcom and Sony.
In any case, I'm curious to see how exclusivity deals will continue to change and grow over the remaining years of this console cycle. If these examples are any indication, things will continue to be strange.