Clearly some parts of the world are ahead of the UK when it comes to time travel capability, as many players have been able to enjoy the Shadow of the Tomb Raider launch before it’s actually happened.

In a move that’s not unheard of in the gaming world, stockists around the globe have been liberally handing out copies of Lara Croft’s latest adventure almost a full week before the title’s official release. The Shadow of the Tomb Raider launch is actually scheduled for September 14th (or September 12th for the pre-ordery, early accessy kinda people.) However, tomb raiders in the Middle East and Germany have apparently been causing Mayan apocalypses all over the place, with the game having been available since the weekend.

As you can see, gameground_delmenhorst has noted on Instagram that, “Heute kam Shadow of the Tomb Raider für PS4 und Xbox One rein. Offizieller Release ist allerdings erst am 14.09.” Now my dad is half German, so I can confirm that this translates as, “Unbelievably, German retailers are flouting the rules for Shadow of the Tomb Raider on PS4 and Xbox One in the most offizieller way. Release the wolves on 14.09.”

But how does this kind of thing happen? Do clumsy employees accidentally fill the shelves they’re not supposed to…?

It’s possible, but doubtful. It wouldn’t be a very efficient retailer if it allowed this sort of practice to occur on a regular basis. It would be a bit like a network “accidentally” broadcasting a future episode of a popular TV show by mistake. (Does anyone know if that’s ever happened…? I’m curious.)

Of course, there’s no denying that the practice of ‘breaking street date’ is incredibly attractive to some retailers. Once the word gets out amongst Joe Public, the shops in question have the potential to rob their rivals of sales and increase the footfall in their outlets. That being said, this wouldn’t be so hot for the brand’s relationship with the publisher, or indeed its overall reputation; it’s a bit like breaking an embargo on a news story. Yes journalists do it, but they risk being denied advance access to tasty information in the future.

And I can confidently say that this website has never broken an embargo. Nope. No, nay, never. (Mainly because I’m never sent the information in the first place.)

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WHERE! IS! MY! PRE-ORDER?!

That’s not to say that some retailers don’t consciously break street dates to try and get ahead; I am certain that it happens. And whilst it’s not illegal to do so, the retailer can risk a lawsuit from the publisher if they have a contract in place. Moreover, the manufacturer is at liberty to impose fines, so I guess any mischievous outlets have to seriously consider whether flogging a few advance copies of Shadow of the Tomb Raider is worth the fee. Or Lara’s wrath.

Furthermore, we have to bear in mind that this news story could be one big Square Enix-shaped publicity stunt to drum up some extra internet coverage. Ha ha, I’m not falling for that one…! I know it sounds a bit conspiracy theory, but it does happen. I can’t prove it, but it’s my opinion that the Blu-Ray leak of the Doctor Who series seven box set was a move to generate buzz in the wake of iffy ratings. Many fans who had pre-ordered received their copies early, and were given advance access to the intriguingly-titled season finale The Name of the Doctor. The BBC promised viewers that they would be in for an extra special treat if they kept schtumm and didn’t leak any spoilers.

Hmmmmm…

PREVIEW_SCREENSHOT7_164388
It’s a Mayan conspiracy.

Moreover, we have to bear in mind that Square Enix actually wants gamers to get their hands on Shadow of the Tomb Raider before its official release. As I say, players who have pre-ordered the Digital Deluxe, Croft Edition and Ultimate Editions get to pick up their controllers two days in advance. So is it beyond the realms of possibility that the publisher could have given the nod to a couple of German retailers? Nein, ich glaube nicht!

Still, hysteria aside, we don’t have long to wait before we can take Lara Croft on her next tomb raiding adventure. How will you be celebrating the Shadow of the Tomb Raider launch? Will you be playing on Wednesday? Friday? Are you German and have already completed it? Let me know in the comments below.

Pre-order the Croft Edition on the PS4 or Xbox One.

Pre-order the normal edition on the PS4 or Xbox One.

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