Tomb Raider achieved profitability on PC and console in late 2013
Posted: 17.01.2014 18:01 by Simon Priest Comments: 14
Remember when Square Enix declared the new Crystal Dynamics Tomb Raider reboot a bit of a 'failure'? They were talking in terms of sales, and they weren't wrong according to executive producer Scot Amos.

It took Tomb Raider near the end of 2013 to cross over into the black for its PC and console launch, despite moving 3.4 million units its first month. Difficult to have 'realistic expectations' anymore.

Tomb Raider enjoyed a glorious return with the reboot, but financially it wasn't proving such a prodigy for Square Enix, hence why words of 'failure' surprised many.

"Everybody’s expectation is desirable,” said executive producer Amos.

“I think that, as far as realistic or not, what the market can bear… It’s a very interesting time. How many people can sell games like Clash of Clans or Candy Crush and make that kind of money? Or Minecraft’s sales? Expectations can get shifted so quickly it’s difficult to know what realistic even means anymore."

“As a franchise, Square Enix is clearly invested in us. They already let us get kickstarted on a sequel and they backed us with this. They’ve always been behind us, regardless of maybe what was said or how it was said in the press, and certainly at the end of the year we’ve actually gone over expectations because we’ve managed to get profitability back."

“And, looking forward, clearly Square and Crystal are invested in the franchise. So, despite how it was said, what was said – we had a lot of people scratching their heads and asking about it – we’re very happy to say that from a partnership internally, we’re committed to it totally. Square Enix talks about it as a key franchise, so we’re very happy with where we’re at," added Amos. Crystal is developing the Definitive Edition for Xbox One and PS4, due January 28th.

Sleeping Dogs, Hitman, and Deus Ex all have new sequels underway, alongside Tomb Raider.

Source: Eurogamer
Game advertisements by <a href="" target="_blank">Game Advertising Online</a> require iframes.


By nocutius (SI Elite) on Jan 17, 2014
I guess the big studios are in a bit of a trouble when 3.4 million sold copies are not enough to even cover the base costs of the game.

3.4M copies * S50 = $170M

How is that not enough?
By MeanSerbian (SI Veteran Member) on Jan 18, 2014
I am playing TR now, and i must say it is AWESOME!!! Very enjoyable!!! But as for the sales ... idk. Developers these days are too greedy if you ask me.
By Voqar (SI Core Member) on Jan 18, 2014
It's not so much the developers but the corporate entities they get tied to that are greedy. It's not like the people who made the game will be seeing much of those profits. Some CEO and shareholders who had nothing to do with creating the game will be lining their pockets for doing nothing.

Of course, these companies do often sell out to corporate masters and/or are willing go work for them, so in some way it is the developer's fault for churning out corporate garbage that leads to corporate marketing spew.

Obviously not all corporate games end up bad and everything indie isn't good by definition but it's hard to expect corporations to give a crap about gamers or quality of games when the only thing they exist for is profit.
By Hammerjinx (SI Core) on Jan 18, 2014
AAA dev costs aren't exactly dropping. There was an article on this site saying Bioshock Infinite cost $200M to make, and another $200M to market. That money doesn't come from nowhere. It comes from people who want a return on their investment. Taking a whole year to show any return is lackluster. I don't think many publishers expect to break even in the first month, but certainly well within a year.

It also depends on the goals. I'd say that the reboot has revitalised the franchise. A lot of ppl who played it will prolly jump at a sequel, and that sequel will be cheaper to produce because they have the engine, the tools, and the experience all sorted out. If that had been their sole goal, to set up for a highly profitable sequel, then breaking even in the year while getting almost universal praise could have been a good outcome.
By nocutius (SI Elite) on Jan 18, 2014
If Bioshock (a previous gen console game) really did cost $200M to make then I have no idea how Star Citizen (a high end PC game) is supposed to be made with only ~S50M, and yet I don't see them complaining about not having enough money.
By Hammerjinx (SI Core) on Jan 19, 2014
I dare say a lot of the folks on Star Citizen are doing it partially for the love, and that there's a shit-tonne less voice acting, and a shot-tonne more proceedurally generated content.

That said, they prolly could have made a Bioshock game that was almost as good for a fair amount less ...but then it wouldn't be as good, see?
By LukeDion1987 (SI Core Member) on Jan 19, 2014
A few weeks ago they announced that the game has sold over four and a half million copies ... And we still have a definite edition of the game ahead of us.. I don't think that this is ''failure'' at all.
By nocutius (SI Elite) on Jan 19, 2014
True, a lot of content in the game is going to be procedurally generated but a lot of it wont, it's going to be a mixture of both so things will add up quite fast. But generally you have a point, space games indeed are cheaper to make.

I don't think that people are working there for free though and I'd dare to say it's going to have even more voice acting (cutscenes) that Bioshock if previous games are any indication. Not to mention that they're basically making two games, one a cinematic single player and the other an MMO of sorts.
By nocutius (SI Elite) on Jan 19, 2014
But then there's this:
"The Witcher 2 cost $10,36 million"

No way Bioshock Infinite is a bigger or more detailed game than the Witcher 2, something is not quite right here.
By V4ndall (SI Veteran Member) on Jan 20, 2014
I find it quite ridiculous that such game can even be considered a failure. I'm not much of a TPP guy, I tried every Tomb Rider yet this one was the only one I seriously enjoyed and actually played up till the end.

It is possible for Witcher 2 to cost far less, because it was made in Poland, and the wages here are SEVERAL TIMES lower than in the US. Especially for graphic artists. Belive me, I live here ;)
By nocutius (SI Elite) on Jan 20, 2014
I considered lower wages but USA programmers surely can't have them 20x higher.

So the difference is roughly 2.5x higher net wages for programmers compared to Poland.

So if were to equalize the wages we'd get $26M, that still leaves us with over $170M in difference.

Holy... janitors in Japan have higher wages than programmers (O.O)
By Hammerjinx (SI Core) on Jan 20, 2014
Yeah. Sometimes I think they just spend heaps so they can brag about how grandiose it is. I'm sure if we saw a break down of expenses there'd be a few WTF moments.

2.5x would be based on averages, and the chart shows general programming, not games programming. I dare say the gap between countries grows considerably if you're trying to get top shelf dudes. A highly experienced project lead could easily run you multiples the cost of a decent lead, and that decent lead would run you multiples of what ppl could get in Poland. Expand out that same principle across a hundred dudes and it can add up. Did Witcher2 do massive weeks with penalty rates on overtime? I bet you Bioshock Infinite did. Start giving guys that could be getting 10x what their Polish comrades get 2x penalty rates and you're talking some seriously disgusting cash. Maybe it's worth it to get the title shipped fast rather than letting them spend years putting it together in 38 hr weeks?

I'm sure there's some BS expenses in there, maybe even a little exaggeration, but that's the way it goes sometimes.
By nocutius (SI Elite) on Jan 20, 2014
But shouldn't the same principle apply to Poland as well? Someone capable of making a game like the Witcher 2 must be equally as hard to find in Poland as in USA if not even harder due to it being a smaller country.

Maybe the higher penalty and overtime rates really do account for all that difference.
By Hammerjinx (SI Core) on Jan 21, 2014
Think of it like hiring a band to play your birthday. If you want an ok local band it's, say, 3 times the cost in the US than in Poland. If you wanna hire a bunch of rockstars you might pay 10x the base Polish rate in Poland, but 30x the base US rate in the US, making the US 9x the cost of the Polish rockstars. The US guys are prolly a bit better, but prolly not 9x better.

I'm not saying this is the answer, but it's plausible.