Tomb Raider, Sleeping Dogs, and Hitman: Absolution, three of Square Enix's big blockbuster titles of last year may have been well-received by fans and media, but the company still refers to them as failures. All three games, according to the company's 2013 annual report, have "resulted in financially unsatisfactory consequences."
Crystal Dynamics' Tomb Raider has been on the forefront of Square Enix's criticism which was described as having "weak sales" by the publisher back in March (shortly after the game's release). At the time the game sold approximately 3.4 million units (not including digital distribution). We later learned Square Enix had expected the game to ship five to six million copies.
"In the HD games category, we delivered three major titles in the fiscal year under review, primarily in Europe and North America. These titles— “SLEEPING DOGS,” “Hitman: Absolution,” and “TOMB RAIDER”—failed to reach their respective targets, and resulted in financially unsatisfactory consequences," Square Enix said.
Tomb Raider's sales have since topped four million worldwide, short of expectations, but still a solid number. However, as the Square Enix notes in its financial results, the company had to "expend considerable incentive programs offered to retailers."
"These three titles, which were developed for consumer game consoles, were critically-acclaimed through media coverage, and therefore, I believe, were successful from a game development perspective," Square Enix president and representative director Yosuke Matsuda wrote. "However, we were exposed to increasingly severe competition with a number of blockbuster titles from major publishers, and experienced great difficulties in price control of these titles from a marketing perspective.
"We had to expend considerable incentive programs offered to retailers such as price protection, back-end rebates, and promotional cooperation costs, which generated a certain level of shipment quantity but with lower margins than expected," he explained.
All three titles were well-received, but as proven by the financial results, a solid game doesn't always mean commercial success. Despite the financial woes, a Tomb Raider sequel is already in development, but we've yet to hear more about the other two franchises.