Square Enix: Shadow of the Tomb Raider was not “novel” enough

Square Enix has always been a tough company to impress when it comes to the Tomb Raider franchise. I remember when the 2013 reboot landed and the suits were distinctly dissatisfied with the 3.4 million units that shipped within the first month – not to mention the 1 million that were sold within the first 48 hours!

But hey, what do I know – I only play the stuff! It’s no secret, however, that the latest instalment in the Tomb Raider series – Shadow of the Tomb Raider – perhaps didn’t make the impact that many people were hoping for. It received reasonable reviews (from myself included) but, culturally, it didn’t get people talking in the way that Red Dead Redemption 2 did.


Now, in a Q3 financial results briefing document, Square Enix has put Shadow of the Tomb Raider‘s slower start down to a lack of innovation on the title’s part. “We think the main reason is that we were unable to provide an experience that was novel enough that players would choose to buy [the game] before any of the other numerous major titles on the competitive landscape,” Square Enix says. Hmmm.

The document also reveals that Shadow of the Tomb Raider sold reasonably well, though, having shipped a total of 4.12 million units since its launch in September 2018.

But Square Enix is right, of course – there was a considerable amount of competition for Lady Croft towards the end of last year, with games such as Spider-ManRDR2Fallout 77 and Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 competing for shelf space in the Christmas rush – to name a few.

I must admit, I feel fairly lukewarm towards this latest instalment as well, and I can’t quite put my finger on why. It’s a very solid game, crafted with plenty of polish, and it’s arguably one of the most beautiful titles I’ve ever loaded into my PS4. I wonder if there was insufficient time between its announcement and its release to build up excitement? Also, does the fact that it’s made by a different team make it seem less official, in some weird way? In addition, I think it’s fair to say that it didn’t have the most labyrinthine plot in the world (or “novel” plot, you might say…) Could that have been a factor?

At the end of the day, though, 4 million sales in six months is a very healthy performance for my favourite archaeologist, and I sincerely hope that – somewhere in a dark room – Square Enix is secretly plotting Lara Croft’s return to her signature twin pistols.

How do you feel about Shadow of the Tomb Raider? Do you think it was “novel” enough? And what would you like to see Square Enix do next with the franchise? Let me know in the comments below.

  • Click here to purchase Shadow of the Tomb Raider on the PS4 and help support this site.
  • Click here to purchase on the Xbox One.

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