VU announces Middle-Earth Online

Turbine, the studio that created Asheron's Call, is working on an online RPG based on The Lord of the Rings that VU Games will publish in 2004.

Vivendi Universal Games today announced that it has signed Turbine Entertainment to produce Middle-Earth Online, a new online role-playing game based on the The Lord of the Rings novels. This is one of a number of games based on J.R.R. Tolkien's novels that Vivendi Universal has in the works, but while other Tolkien games are planned for release under the Sierra and Black Label Games publishing labels, Middle-Earth Online will be specifically released under the VU Games brand.

Middle-Earth Online will be a 3D online RPG that will immerse players in the world of Middle-earth and let them create characters using a number of Tolkien archetypes. Characters will be able to adventure throughout the world of Middle-earth depicted in the novels. Along the way, they will form kinships, build race-specific buildings, and craft unique items and weapons.

"We are extremely excited to be working with a world-class developer like Turbine," said Jim Wilson, executive vice-president of product development at Vivendi Universal Games. "Their track record and proven expertise in building, launching, and supporting massively multiplayer games is exceptional, making them the right partner for a franchise as beloved and well-known as J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. Together, our goal will be to bring the vision and spirit of the literary works of J.R.R. Tolkien to life in Middle-Earth Online."

VU Games has confirmed that, apart from the name, this new game has no connection to Sierra's earlier online Middle Earth project, which was in development several years ago at internal studios that have since been closed. Middle-Earth Online has been in development for more than a year.

Middle-Earth Online is scheduled for release in 2004. We expect to see more of the game at next week's E3, where a networked version should be on display. For more information, you can visit the official Web site.

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