Tomb Raider had biggest start in franchise history

Friday, 29th March 2013 23:40 GMT By Phil Owen

While apparently Tomb Raider’s first few weeks on shelves were so bad that Square Enix’s president quit, they were also so good that Tomb Raider had the best launch in the history of the 17-year franchise. So says Crystal Dynamics boss Darrell Gallagher at GDC.

“It’s been the biggest week one sales in franchise history, and we’re only a few weeks into that launch right now, and it’s been the biggest opening so far in 2013,” said Gallagher at the Tomb Raider panel. “So, we’re happy with the outcome. It’s certainly in a place where we feel like we’re on the road to achieving everything we wanted to.”

And yet Square Enix is acting like it had a launch that means it’s the end of the world. What a difference perspective can make.

Thanks, Joystiq



  1. salarta

    Because they did every possible thing on the face of the planet to advertise the game, more people exist and play games to buy them (same reason box office record keeps getting broken), and of course a majority of people didn’t have enough respect for Lara Croft and Tomb Raider to value what the originals established. We’ve seen that last point innumerable times with people claiming Lara Croft had absolutely no personality and only existed for tits until this game.

    #1 2 years ago
  2. YoungZer0

    Yep, sometimes the best game in the franchise actually sells the most.

    But only sometimes.

    #2 2 years ago
  3. SplatteredHouse

    Read this idea earlier, but I’ll add it in here: How badly do you suppose Hitman Absolution did compared to how much better Tomb Raider would have to do to recover the shortfall – do we have any data on HA sale figures…How low below expectation did it fall? Sleeping Dogs didn’t surpass 1.7m (retail) copies either.

    None of the games met Square-Enix expectation. That’s established. But, a report is here regarding delight from CD of franchise record-breaking initial sales. Where then, should fingers sooner be pointed.

    ““It’s been the biggest week one sales in franchise history”…
    “And yet Square Enix is acting like it had a launch that means it’s the end of the world. What a difference perspective can make.”

    hm. Aren’t you comparing apples and oranges, Phil? Even though you’re trying to offer another outlook on things at the end, to balance.
    Because maybe, in a situation with higher promoting costs, higher development and all else: Costs are up. It’s possible Tomb Raider had to do better (by the end of the fiscal year) to address that. Considering the massive losses reported, under which Mr. Wada is resigning also. Additionally, noting the expected identification of the third box on the Square-Enix document. Not Projected. That number could well be the copies sold target, under which it’s not considered a good result.

    #3 2 years ago
  4. Blue Oni

    This game had some insane marketing shortly before and after its release date so i can’t say i’m surprised.
    But i doubt that after all this marketing and 4 years in production costs the game can be called a “success” just from a first week sales.

    DmC also had very good first week sales but the game fell into oblivion after that.

    Seems to me that for some reason Crystal tries a bit too hard to make the game’s sales look successful.

    #4 2 years ago
  5. malethief

    As much press, coverage and advertising this game has received it’s a shame that it’s not selling to Square Enix’s expectations as the seem to be doing an excellent job with the Eidos properties better then their own.

    Either way I would say it’s the issue I noticed what has been happening a lot this generation: So many other high profile games come out in such a close window release period it’s hard to find time to play them all or even be able to afford them all. February was Dead Space 3, Metal Gear Rising Revengeance, Crysis 3. Then March was Tomb Raider, Sim City, StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm ,God of War: Ascension, Gears of War Judgment, BioShock: Infinite. And that’s not including other smaller titles like Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm 3, Sly Cooper Thieves in Time, Luigi’s Mansion, Monster Hunter Tri Ultimate that came out. I didn’t even mention PSN, XBLA, Free to Play and Steam titles.

    Whether you own one or all the home consoles systems, handhelds or are a PC gamer the market is so spread out now it’s hard to get “X” amount of sales to one game when the install base of people has so much on their plate to think about. Plus if you are one of those people who only buy a few games a year it’s probably only going to be possibly GTA 5, Bioshock Infinite, COD 2013 and/or Tomb Raider.

    #5 2 years ago
  6. salarta

    @4: Well, they have a couple vested interests in framing the game as successful. First and foremost, if the game is seen as a success, then it means the company is more likely to receive higher amounts of funding for future projects. Second, if a game is seen as a success, then it builds their reputation, which in turn would allow them to pursue and launch other IPs. I don’t know if Squeenix has any say in what the development team is allowed to do aside from financial support, but even if Squeenix has no say, it could affect if non-Squeenix companies want Crystal Dynamics to make games based on their own properties (e.g. how Kojima passed much of Revengeance along to Platinum Games).

    Talking about this reminds me of how I wondered a couple weeks back why we hadn’t seen Squeenix plastering sales figures for the game everywhere. It looked from a consumer standpoint like the game was a huge success, but many of us hadn’t actually thought of what may have been the full cost: four years of development, enlisting Rhianna Pratchett likely cost more than your average video game writer, and of course levels of marketing so obscene that I wouldn’t be surprised if it had the biggest marketing budget of a video game to date. I can’t think of a single game that went out of its way to make sure absolutely everyone knew it was being released more than this game. I don’t think even the Halo or Call of Duty franchises tried this hard to get word out about the product. It was essentially the marketing of a $10+ million selling franchise for a return seen in an above average selling franchise.

    #6 2 years ago
  7. ActionGameKing

    Can’t believe Square Enix paid an entire team for a wasted multiplayer component, then come back and say the sales won’t cover the budget. How embarrassing is that? You wasted your own money Square, it’s your fault not Eidos. Same thing with Hitman and Sleeping Dogs. Unrealistic budgets and expectations = bankruptcy; right THQ?

    #7 2 years ago
  8. polygem

    it’s strange. i am not that interested in these aaa games anymore. bioshock, dishonoured, tomb raider, metal gear rising, DmC…all games i would have bought day one just one or two years ago…not anymore-and i don’t even feel like i’m missing out on something. atm i am more pumped for games like sly cooper thieves in time, luigi dark mansion, soul sacrifice…games where gameplay is the focus. last home console aaa game i bought the last 2 or 3 months was gowA. i count that game into the gameplay first department too though. i just cannot stand most videogame stories anymore. they are boring and give me nothing than a been there done that vibe. i still love ‘playing’ videogames though. i am becoming a more casual hardcore gamer if you will. i cannot wait for destiny though, but i can really see me skipping a lot of the so called must have games in the future – something i never thought possible…

    #8 2 years ago
  9. Gheritt White

    @3: Nail on the flipping head, mate.

    #9 2 years ago
  10. viralshag

    I thought this was probably one of the better games of this gen and definitely better than any other Tomb Raider game I have played.

    No idea what possessed them to add MP and then to create DLC for said MP. If there is one thing I’m not at all interested in it’s playing the MP for this game.

    Everything else about it was great.

    #10 2 years ago
  11. DSB

    It just goes to show that a game can be great and sell by the boatload, but a publisher can still find a way to fuck it up for themselves.

    Square Enix have no one but themselves to blame. The industry seems to be caught by the crippling notion that the best games are the most expensive ones, while completely ignoring the possibilities they’d have if they relied on their talent rather than financial metrics.

    Kinda seems like Square Enix are intent on going the way of THQ. Hopefully they’ll bring in someone smart enought to stop that train before it hits the end of the line.

    #11 2 years ago
  12. stretch215

    @10 +1 Great game.

    #12 2 years ago
  13. Digital Bamboo

    @11 To pull a line from Square’s past:
    “There ain’t no gettin’ offa this train we’re on!”
    For once, I hope Barrett’s wrong.

    #13 2 years ago
  14. brotherhoodofthewolf

    This guy from Crystal Dynamics is coming across like a dead man talking.

    #14 2 years ago
  15. Unlimax

    ” Tomb Raider had biggest start in franchise history ”

    And so Aya Brea too ~

    #15 2 years ago
  16. salarta

    @15: I’m not sure about 3rd Birthday being the biggest start of the Aya Brea games, but it definitely wasn’t the best selling. Parasite Eve and Parasite Eve II each got over a million in sales back in the PS1 era, 3rd Birthday ended up well short of half a million. It’s kind of funny though that two games this alike, one fails and gets scorn while the other apparently succeeds and gets praise, and the sole difference at the basic level is if the woman’s sex appeal is used in the process.

    #16 2 years ago
  17. Unlimax

    @16 I’m Huge fan of Tomb raider games since the PS1 era Salarta but What i meant about The biggest start in franchise as if they are already want to work on ” Parasite Eve 3 ” and give her a chance in the mean time by buying the right back from Hideaki Sena and make a 3rd installment for the franchise .. i wasn’t talking about The 3rd birthday spin-off the whole time nor the sales , I’m talking about the Parasite Eve III trademark that still isn’t registered by Square so there’s a Chance for Aya to comeback this time if they buy the rights and let Takashi Tokita be the Director of the next game :) .. Which i think its not gonna happen ( Thanks to Hajime tabata -_- ) !

    #17 2 years ago
  18. mimasap

    I’ve been waiting for someone to bring it up under new analysis, since the game is now released and you can judge it yourself, but it seems this topic is destined to disappear like it never existed. Remember when people were calling out Crystal Dynamics for submitting to sexism when the only thing we knew about the ‘rape’ scene was that it existed? Christ. I hate what political correctness does to the media, And now no one is going to admit they were wrong about Tomb Raider? I just finished the game and thought it was absolutely stunning, and the scene in question was like one QTE out of the whole ~15 hour experience, and I felt it was a very appropriate sequence.

    I feel guilty as a male for bringing this up, but I don’t think CD did anything wrong.

    EDIT: Excellent read:–Crystal-Dynamics-deserves-an-apology-from-gamers-for-hasty-Tomb-Raider-controversy

    #18 2 years ago
  19. ellkay

    I’m female, have daughters, believe in equal pay, equal opportunity and TR did not have sexual violence in it. Even if they did it would have made sense, the solarii were seriously messed in the head.

    But it didn’t. Overreaction city.

    The game was great. The initial sales should not have been the thing that made or broke the companies perspective on what qualifies on a success. SOmetimes you have to wait for the word to get out – for people to tell their friends about how cool the graphics were, how realistic the combat felt, etc

    #19 2 years ago
  20. salarta

    @19: For a second, I thought you were a spambot with the way you started that comment.

    Under normal circumstances, you need to wait for word to get out. These are not normal circumstances. Squeenix had such an extensive, smothering marketing campaign that word was out day one, if not well before that. Ads were on IMDb, ads were on TV (from what I saw, once per hour), they ran contests on deviantart and pixiv, you literally could not escape the advertising of this game unless you were a hermit, and even then there’d probably be posters within a five mile radius to stumble upon.

    As for the sexual violence, there’s nothing inherently wrong with depicting such things as long as it’s for a good reason, but it would be inappropriate for it to happen to Lara Croft… just like the game itself. At this point, DC Comics may as well rewrite canonical main universe Superman as a victim a child abuse and molestation, as we’re certainly heading in that direction.

    #20 2 years ago
  21. DSB

    @19 I can’t believe how bad the devs were at selling it. A game with so many qualities, and you want to sell it as a damsel in distress game, based on a 30 second scene?

    It’s just completely self-destructive, and disingenuous.

    #21 2 years ago
  22. salarta

    @21: If you’re targeting the controversy of the “rape scene” remarks, as opposed to everything else, then place the blame where it’s due: it was the executive producer and him alone that talked about needing to “protect” Lara and Lara supposedly being raped. The dev team didn’t say anything of the sort, and in fact openly refuted and condemned that interpretation.

    #22 2 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.