Microsoft has admitted that its controversial capture of Square Enix’s Rise of the Tomb Raider as an Xbox exclusive is designed to fend off the threat of Uncharted 4.
“I'm a big fan of Uncharted and I wish we had an action adventure game of that ilk,” Xbox boss Phil Spencer told Eurogamer. “But we don't have one today of that quality. This is an opportunity.
“I want to have a stable of hits on our platform that we own. Absolutely. That's fundamental to us having a successful platform. When a unique opportunity comes up, I've got to go look at that. And this was a unique opportunity.”
Spencer also stuck up for developer Crystal Dynamics, arguing that some people fail the understand the potential benefit such a publishing partnership can offer.
“The games business today is an expensive business to be in. If you're going to build shows like this, and IP and marketing budgets, in certain instances a partnership is a good way for a publisher to find a way to get to the level they think they need to break out,” he added.
“Certain people won't believe this: it doesn't come from an evil space. It comes from a space where there's an opportunity that maps really well with what we need in terms of the genre, and a partner that's looking for a partnership. And I think it could help the franchise in the long run and help Crystal and Square and us.
“Big games are good for our industry, and if we can make games bigger, in the long run, that's healthy. This business, the console gaming business, only stays healthy if people are all making money. If you're a mid-sized publisher or an independent studio, you've got to take advantage of opportunities.
“I don't know that all the press get that. Or all the community. Maybe they shouldn't have to. But when people start saying, somebody sold out this or sold out that, it's not an easy business to be in.”
Spencer also addressed the criticism that what Microsoft has done is not try and improve its own offer but instead directly attack its rivals by paying Square Enix to abandon (albeit temporarily) the work it had already put into the PlayStation and PC versions of the game.
“There are two sides: you've got the Xbox guys – I hope the Xbox guys are happy we have another game coming to Xbox they can play,” he argued. “But I don't want anybody to be happy that somebody else isn't playing the game. I don't look at the war that way. I just want gaming on Xbox to be great. I'm not trying to push gaming down on any other platform.
“Clearly, I'm not going to invest in something to make games great on other platforms. Windows stuff I will. But not on stuff on other consoles. That's 101. This wasn't an attack against anybody else. It was an opportunity that came up for us that fit really well.”