People might forget with how well Microsoft has been doing recently, that there was a time they did not quite have it all together. A major issue during the last generation was a lack of major first-party titles, something that their competition Sony went into that generation within a big way. At the time the Microsoft strategy was not as it is today, which is to buy everybody, instead, they similar to their competition was to strike timed exclusivity deals. At E3 2014, they did just that with the upcoming Tomb Raider Sequel Rise of The Tomb Raider.
Disclaimer – This information has not been verified, therefore this is not factual.
The game was announced on the Microsoft stage at E3 where it confirmed it would be an Xbox exclusive. During this period of time Xbox was often criticized for having lots of games presented at E3 with very few being exclusive, so this was a pretty solid get even if it was a timed exclusive. As with most of these deals, however, it was unknown exactly how much was paid at the time for it.
According to Tumur222 on Twitter we might now have a new figure for what the game was worth to Microsoft at the time. This info comes from Fabien Rossini on their Linkedin profile. There are multiple pictures listed across this person profile but the second in the first row lists “building strategic partnerships” before including the Tomb Raider exclusivity deal as being “worth 100M”
Rise of the Tomb Raider exclusivity deal with Microsoft was worth $100 million.
Other stuff. pic.twitter.com/BH6TkhI9eL
— Timur222 (@bogorad222) August 30, 2021
Exclusivity deals when being negotiated usually require an amount that satiates what a studio thinks they might lose in revenue by excluding other platforms. Since even upon release a year later a game might not have the same amount of buzz as a first release, in this case, Square Enix felt they clearly had a large amount to lose out on. At the time Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter stated that the deal most likely hurt Rise of The Tomb Raider in sales overall.
Why Microsoft would be willing to pay that much at the time was another matter. The hotly anticipated Uncharted 4 was originally slated for the 2015 window similar to Tomb Raider. In that same window, Xbox had very little to compete directly with that game, as well nothing in that genre. Most likely this was a calculated risk, perhaps not attempting to compete directly, but to offer something to their consumers of a similar nature.
Companies often make expensive moves, and even the most certain business deal can ultimately not work out in the long run. It is interesting to have some insight into the state of Microsoft at the time, before they would launch the Xbox Game Pass.