Middle-Earth Online delayed until 2005

Calling it a "tough but correct" decision, VU keeps the Turbine-developed, J.R.R. Tolkien-inspired MMORPG in the shop for additional fine-tuning.

After two years in the shop, Middle-Earth Online apparently still needs more work. The game's publisher, VU Games, today informed select media outlets that the upcoming massively multiplayer game needed more time in development and would not make its previously scheduled October 2004 ship date. The new timetable sees MEO arriving at retail sometime next year.

The game's producer, Chris Taylor, said that the decision was made jointly by both the developer and publisher and that the parties had been thinking about tweaking the release date for some time.

VU said in a statement that "the extra time in development will be used to add more content, more lore, and more nuanced touches to the world, as well as enable us to extend the beta-testing period."

Asked if the upcoming World of Warcraft release may have spooked the MEO team and prompted the delay, Taylor indicated that it was not a factor. "They're their own studio; they do their own thing," he said of the game's developer, Blizzard Entertainment.

Taylor said Middle-Earth Online's development was progressing well and that from this point out, the development team would "focus on getting content into the game rather than spend time creating a specialized version for this year’s E3." The game will not be shown on the E3 show floor in any form.

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