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Lara Croft goes digital only, drops Tomb Raider name

By on March 4, 2010

I’ve been waiting to see which publisher would be the first to drop retail entirely for a major release.

Step forward, Square Enix.

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light official homepage

Square Enix has just announced that the next Tomb Raider game, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, will be a digital only product.

Although the announcement doesn’t name platforms, I would expect it to be on PSN, XBLA and probably PC. The more I think about it, the more I think WiiWare is likely to be a key platform (perhaps even the lead platform) for a game that is popular with non-traditional gamers, too.

It’s a bold move. A digital download title is likely to be cheaper and quicker to develop, be higher margin (only giving 30% to the platform holder, rather than 40% + to retailers), have less piracy and lead more easily to a yearly franchise.

They’ve also, finally, made the brilliant decision to drop the Tomb Raider moniker. It seems, with hindsight, to be madness trying to keep two brands alive (Tomb Raider, Lara Croft) when the character of Lara resonates so strongly with the public. By having a single brand, based on an iconic character, Square Enix has made its marketing job both easier and more effective.

(Thanks to MCV for the lead)

About Nicholas Lovell

Nicholas is the founder of Gamesbrief, a blog dedicated to the business of games. It aims to be informative, authoritative and above all helpful to developers grappling with business strategy. He is the author of a growing list of books about making money in the games industry and other digital media, including How to Publish a Game and Design Rules for Free-to-Play Games, and Penguin-published title The Curve: