Research group Superdata released its digital sales report for January 2016 today, and one of the standout figures for the month is how well Rise of the Tomb Raider did the moment it launched on PC. It managed to move over three times as many copies on the platform than it did during the same launch period on XBox One.
There’s an obvious lesson to be learned here — “don’t be restrictive, Square, or you’ll lose money” — but there’s a second lesson hidden within it. As Supedata points out, the big flaw in Square-Enix’s strategy was that it launched Rise of the Tomb Raider on the same day that Fallout 4 also launched. Bethesda’s latest had been anticipated for years, and due to the exclusivity, Lara’s game was less visible on the rack.
By contrast, virtually nothing came out in January except the RotTR PC port, leaving the entire market open. Last November Microsoft’s Aaron Greenberg defended the sales numbers, claiming RotTR had sold “well over one million copies” and insisting it and Fallout 4 were not in direct competition. The PC numbers would appear to be evidence against that.
Greenberg made a better and more believable point when he said this: “The challenge with Tomb Raider is if you go a week later you’re against Star Wars Battlefront, if you go a week earlier you’re against Call of Duty Black Ops III; you go two weeks earlier you’re against Halo 5.” When WAS the best time to release it, really?