Tomb Raider Reboot Was a Success After All

That's something of a shift from what Square Enix said a month after its release.

News by Pete Davison, .

It was highlighted as a fine example of the absurdity of the modern industry: a month after Crystal Dynamics' Tomb Raider reboot was released on PS3, 360 and PC, publisher Square Enix claimed it was "disappointed" in the 3.4 million units sold in that relatively short period of time.

"We put a considerable amount of effort in polishing and perfecting the game content for these titles, receiving extremely high Metacritic scores," the publisher said in its financial statement for the period, and referring to not only Tomb Raider, but also Sleeping Dogs and Hitman Absolution, both of which also came in under expectations but both still sold well over a million. "We were very disappointed to see that the high scores did not translate to actual sales performance, which is where we see the substantial variance in operation profit/loss against the forecast."

Whizz forward to today, meanwhile, and it seems that Lara Croft's high-profile reimagining is now being considered a success after selling less than double its month-one sales in the intervening year since release, but still, finally, exceeding its initial forecast of 5 million units sold -- though it's worth noting that the game has expanded to two additional platforms thanks to the next-gen "Definitive Edition" since then.

"By the end of this month, we will surpass 6 million units for our Tomb Raider reboot," said Crystal Dynamics studio head Darrell Gallagher in an open letter to fans. "Having achieved profitability back in 2013, Tomb Raider has exceeded profit expectations and continues to make significant contributions to our overall financial performance. At launch we set franchise records for the fastest-selling day-one and month-one in Tomb Raider history. With the positive word of mouth and continued commercial momentum it's great to see Tomb Raider on course to become the best-selling game in the history of the franchise."

Day-one and week-one sales are considered enormously important in today's industry -- much like opening weekends for movies -- but if this situation shows us anything, it's that some games have a very long tail and can continue to sell well after their initial release. In fact, given the prevalence of the "I'll wait for a Steam sale" mentality among PC gamers -- not to mention the fact that many prospective purchasers prefer to wait until all the DLC is available (or a "Game of the Year Edition" is released) for a high-profile game, it could be clearly and convincingly argued that day-one sales are perhaps not the best indicator of "success" that some publishers think they are.

Crystal Dynamics is now working on a follow-up to the Tomb Raider reboot, but details are practically non-existent at present. "We are looking forward to building on the success and lessons learned from the reboot to continue redefining and setting new benchmarks for Tomb Raider in the years to come," said Gallagher of the sequel.

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Comments 11

  • Avatar for Architecture #1 Architecture 4 years ago
    It's also worth noting that Tomb Raider has seen significant price drops outside of the Definitive Edition. I picked up the PC version for $9 fairly recently.
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  • Avatar for docexe #2 docexe 4 years ago
    As things stand, if bloated budgets will continue to be a thing in the industry, it would be better for companies to ensure that their games have a long tail, rather than focus exclusively on the launch period performance.
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  • Avatar for RoninChaos #3 RoninChaos 4 years ago
    LOL this is hilarious. 5 million is an INSANE number to strive for. I also think there's something wrong with Square's model if they think great scores equals a multi million seller.
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  • Avatar for brionfoulke91 #4 brionfoulke91 4 years ago
    I'm sorry to hear that this game was successful. That pretty much kills the chances that this series will ever be more than a shadow of it's former self. I guess we can look forward to more killing-heavy soulless Uncharted clones.
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  • Avatar for Shadowfire #5 Shadowfire 4 years ago
    @brionfoulke91 I, however, will enjoy my new Uncharted-for-PC series.
    Which, really, this is the natural evolution for Tomb Raider. The old games do not hold up at all.
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  • Avatar for Critical_Hit #6 Critical_Hit 4 years ago
    Okay people; now start buying Sleeping Dogs, because it's amazing.

    Jeez louise. OF COURSE Tomb Raider did this; it's received far more focus from the publisher than their other "disappointments". This one had it's MSRP continually slashed and has been $20 on consoles for awhile not; I imagine that on PC/Steam, you can regularly get it for $5. And then they re-released the Definitive Version, forcing people to pay attention to it AGAIN since there was little else available for their new boxes.

    Where's Sleeping Dogs' "Definitive Edition"? UGH. BUY THAT GAME, PEOPLE!
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  • Avatar for Critical_Hit #7 Critical_Hit 4 years ago
    @Shadowfire: Crystal Dynamics older Tomb Raiders (Legend, Anniversary and Underworld) hold up fantastically, sir. AT LEAST two of those should've been the ones this industry, and these six million gamers, should've paid attention to. Edited March 2014 by Critical_Hit
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  • Avatar for brionfoulke91 #8 brionfoulke91 4 years ago
    @Shadowfire I totally disagree. The old Tomb Raider games hold up really well. They are still great games, and far better than the newer games, particularly the reboot. Especially the first Tomb Raider, the level design is impeccable in that game.

    What I wouldn't give for a new Tomb Raider that plays like the old games but with modern graphics. If only...
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  • Avatar for Wolfe-Wallace #9 Wolfe-Wallace 4 years ago
    Tomb Raider stopped being Tomb Raider when it began taking itself too seriously. This Lara Croft is a symptom of a gamingscape that's obsessed with mimicking every aspect of Hollywood, right down to tackling narrative elements that very few industry writers are capable of pulling off. I do wish more games would remember that they are games first. If I wanted to watch a dreadful survivalist movie, there's many options.
    At least there's still Uncharted for my Indy fix.
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  • Avatar for Blackcompany #10 Blackcompany 4 years ago
    @Wolfe-Wallace I was with you right up until you mentioned Uncharted.

    You criticize Tomb Raider for 'copying all the worst aspects of Hollywood' and then fall back on the series of games that raised the bar for doing just that.

    Uncharted would have made an excellent series of movies. But as a game - as an interactive, player driven experience - they are pretty terrible.
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  • Avatar for eodx9000 #11 eodx9000 4 years ago
    Both Tomb Raider (2013) & Sleeping Dogs were successful to begin with, it's just that SE held too high an expectation in numbers of sales despite that the former had always been a niche franchise and the latter was a BRAND NEW franchise.

    Each are equally worthy of GOTY.
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