A New AAA Lord Of The Rings Game Is Coming
Amazon originally tried to make a LOTR MMO with Leyou, but it fell apart. Now, it's giving it another shot with an internally developed title.
Amazon Games is partnering with Embracer Group and Middle-earth Enterprises to create a new Lord of the Rings MMO. If this sounds familiar, it's because Amazon Games previously had a deal to make a Lord of the Rings MMO with Leyou, but it fell apart due to a contract issue. Amazon Games is now trying again and will develop the game internally this time.
Amazon's new Lord of the Rings MMO will enter a market that already has a popular and established Lord of the Rings MMO. Standing Stone's Lord of the Rings Online is still out there and getting new updates. It doesn't appear the game has plans to slow down, and in fact, there are reports that a console edition of The Lord of the Rings Online is in the works.
Amazon's game will be an "open-world MMO adventure" set in a persistent world in Middle-earth. It will be based specifically on The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings literary trilogy, not the films or other adaptations that have come to fruition over the years. It's also not connected to or associated with Amazon's The Rings of Power TV series.
Amazon Games Orange County, the team behind New World, is leading development on the untitled new Lord of the Rings MMO.
Amazon Games isn't saying much yet about the game, only confirming it will be a "AAA" title that is "in the early stages of production." The game is coming to PC and consoles. More details will be announced later.
Amazon Games VP Christoph Hartmann said, "Bringing players a fresh take on The Lord of the Rings has long been an aspiration for our team, and we're honored and grateful that Middle-earth Enterprises is entrusting us with this iconic world."
This is not Amazon's first partnership with Embracer, as the Amazon is also collaborating with Embracer on a new Tomb Raider game from Crystal Dynamics. Some of Amazon's other upcoming gaming projects include Throne and Liberty with NCSoft, Blue Protocol with Bandai Namco, and unannounced games from Glowmade and Disruptive Games.
"When somebody is a fan ofThe Lord of the Rings and sits down and plays this game for the first time, they have to say, 'This was crafted by a bunch of people who lived in this world just like I do in my head. They get it," Amazon Games Orange County director Rich Lawrence said.
Learning from New World
The same team that worked on Amazon's New World MMO is making The Lord of the Rings MMO, and Amazon says this should work in the game's benefit.
New World has large-scale multiplayer battles, and as Lord of the Rings fans know, Middle-earth hosted a number of giant battles. Amazon Games said the team's proficiency for making New World's big battles has "a clear application and relevance" for the Lord of the Rings MMO.
"In fact, this game will give the studio a new opportunity to take much of what worked so well for New World, revisit it with the benefits of several years' worth of technology advancements, and apply them in a way that’s relevant to The Lord of the Rings," Amazon said. "While New World's Azoth Engine will form the foundation of the game, the Orange County studio plans to evolve that engine considerably to deliver something that feels distinct from New World and fitting for the world of Middle-earth. The team has some big plans for the next generation ofNew World's Azoth Engine that will unlock exciting new possibilities for its take on Middle-earth."
Amazon's first attempt at a LotR MMO Did not go so well
For years, Amazon Games was developing a Lord of the Rings MMO alongside Chinese game developer Leyou and Middle-earth Enterprises. There was a good amount of hype around the game, but it was abruptly canceled in 2021, leaving fans scratching their heads and wondering how it all fell apart.
Hartmann told GameSpot last year that its first Lord of the Rings MMO disintegrated when Leyou was sold to Tencent. Things got "very complicated," and Amazon Games elected to simply cut ties and move on. "We had a deal with a Hong Kong-based company, Leyou; I think it would have been great to work with them. But they later got sold to Tencent and it just got very complicated," Hartmann said.
The license-holder, Middle-earth Enterprises, had a clause written into its contract that it could terminate its rights deal if one of its partners got acquired, Hartmann said. When Tencent bought Leyou, Middle-earth Enterprises exercised that option, and everything stopped.
As you'd expect, Amazon's press release announcing its new Lord of the Rings MMO made no mention at all of its previous attempt to make a Lord of the Rings MMO.
Other Lord Of The Rings games
If Amazon's new Lord of the Rings MMO doesn't sound like your cup of tea, there are plenty of other Lord of the Rings games in the works for fans of the series. The next game set for release is Daedalic's The Lord of the Rings: Gollum, which releases on May 25. Other upcoming Lord of the Rings titles include The Lord of the Rings: Return to Moria from Free Range Games and Weta's new Lord of the Rings game from Private Division. EA's mobile game The Lord of the Rings: Heroes of Middle-earth just launched on May 10.
2023 marks the 20th anniversary of Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, which won 11 Oscars, including Best Picture.