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Microsoft's support of Tomb Raider reboot led to sequel's exclusive, Square Enix says

Samit Sarkar (he/him) is Polygon’s deputy managing editor. He has more than 15 years of experience covering video games, movies, television, and technology.

Square Enix announced last month that Rise of the Tomb Raider will arrive on PlayStation 4 one year after it launches on Xbox platforms. Now we have an idea of how Microsoft secured that arrangement: The company supported the 2013 reboot's vision when others didn't, said Square Enix's Phil Rogers in an interview with Game Informer.

Rogers, the CEO of Square Enix in the Americas and Europe, suggested to Game Informer that the direction of developer Crystal Dynamics' Tomb Raider reboot was a contentious issue within Square Enix.

"I'm not saying it split the company, but in many ways when you're trying to reboot a franchise that's got the history of Tomb Raider, it does divide opinion," Rogers told Game Informer. "We took it in a very fresh direction. I think that at the end of the day, the accolades that we got with Tomb Raider (2013) were great. At the time, not everyone felt that way."

Microsoft has "been close friends of Tomb Raider since the reboot," said Rogers. "So, the evolution of this relationship deepening with the timed exclusive is a very natural one for us, but a tough decision."

Rogers' comments to Game Informer this week echo the sentiments expressed by Crystal Dynamics a year ago, when the studio wrote a blog post explaining the decision to go with Microsoft for a timed exclusive on Rise of the Tomb Raider.

"Our friends at Microsoft have always seen huge potential in Tomb Raider and have believed in our vision since our first unveil with them on their stage at E3 2011," said Crystal Dynamics at the time. "We know they will get behind this game more than any support we have had from them in the past — we believe this will be a step to really forging the Tomb Raider brand as one of the biggest in gaming, with the help, belief and backing of a major partner like Microsoft."

Under Microsoft's exclusivity deal for Rise of the Tomb Raider, which the company announced at Gamescom 2014, Microsoft Studios will publish the Xbox 360 and Xbox One versions of the game. The vague nature of the initial exclusivity announcement a year ago led to confusion about the arrangement: Was Rise of the Tomb Raider actually exclusive to Xbox platforms? If not, how long would the exclusivity period last?

Microsoft clarified during Gamescom 2014 that Rise of the Tomb Raider would be a timed exclusive, but we didn't know the details until two weeks ago: A Windows PC version will launch in "early 2016," followed by PS4 next holiday season.

Rise of the Tomb Raider is scheduled to be released Nov. 10 in North America on Xbox 360 and Xbox One. Crystal Dynamics is developing the Xbox One game, while Nixxes Software is handling the Xbox 360 version. For more on the game, check out new gameplay footage from Gamescom 2015 below.