EA lording over the Rings until 2008

[UPDATE] After months of doubt, the megapublisher announces it is retaining the game rights to the multibillion-dollar film franchise; all-new game coming next year; White Council still "on hold."

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Since the beginning of the year, a cloud of doubt has hung over The Lord of Rings game franchise. In February, following weeks of rumors, Electronic Arts executives confessed that The Lord of the Rings: The White Council was "on hold." Since then, many have presumed the next-generation open-world role-playing game had been canceled--and that EA was planning not to renew the LOTR game license.

Today, though, some hope was restored. Electronic Arts has announced that it will indeed retain Lord of Rings game rights through 2008. As before, the deal applies to games based on director Peter Jackson's film trilogy, which has grossed more than $3 billion worldwide. Midway and Turbine's forthcoming massively multiplayer online RPG, The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar, is based on the J.R.R. Tolkien novels that inspired Jackson's movies.

But while the license announcement was clear, it did spark some confusion by trumpeting the fact that "an all-new title is scheduled for release in 2008." Since no title was mentioned, it was unclear if the game in question was The White Council or an entirely different game.

[UPDATE] However, later in the day, Electronic Arts officially clarified the matter. "The game mentioned is completely new," a rep told GameSpot, "We haven't announced its title or any details yet." As for the White Council? "Its status is unchanged," he said. "It remains on hold."

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