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The Lord of the Rings: Tactics, Battle for Middle-earth II announcements boost EA stock

Mammoth publisher announces it has acquired the literary rights to the blockbuster-film-inspiring novels, unveils new PC and PSP games.


Two weeks ago, Electronic Arts saw its stock price plummet after it confirmed The Godfather, its upcoming game based on the classic novel and film of the same name, would not be released this year.

Today, though, the company's share price ended the day up over $1 on the news that it's making more games based on another literary-filmic cash cow, thanks to the company's acquisition of the rights to the original Lord of the Rings novels. The deal was struck with the Saul Zaentz Company, named after the producer who holds the film rights to Tolkien Enterprises that grants EA the rights to develop games based on the [Lord of the Rings] books," the company said in a statement.

Previously, all of EA's Lord of the Rings games were based solely on writer-director Peter Jackson's immensely popular film trilogy. However, the rights to the original work of author J.R.R. Tolkien were held by one of EA's main rivals, VU Games. VU published two games--the PC real-time strategy game The Lord of the Rings: War of the Ring and the multiplatform The Hobbit--based on Tolkien's fiction. However, unlike EA's LOTR games, neither used any graphic assets or actor likenesses from the multibillion-dollar-grossing films.

Today, EA announced it has two new Lord of the Rings games in development. First up is The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II, the sequel to EA's popular real-time strategy game for the PC. In development at EALA, the game will feature battles not featured in the Lord of the Rings films. "Expanding on The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth, the new RTS game will allow players to engage in heated battles with Elven and Dwarven armies plus heroes and creatures that have never been seen in The Lord of the Rings films," the company said in a statement. No release date was mentioned in the release, which also revealed the game's Web site has gone live.

EA also had good news for PSP owners, confirming the first Lord of the Rings game for the handheld. The Lord of the Rings: Tactics will be a hybrid role-playing game/tactical strategy game in the mold of the company's popular multiplatform RPG, The Lord of the Rings, The Third Age. Though vague on story details, EA's announcement did reveal that Tactics would let players be on the side of good or the side of the dark lord Sauron, who's goal is to hunt down the Fellowship of the Ring.

Details about Tactics' gameplay were also scant, although EA said it would let players "guard their heroes, seize high ground, set ambushes and trap enemies while fighting battles across famous locations of the books and films to determine the future of Middle-earth." The game will also sport a "unique, simultaneous turn-taking system [that] allows for fast-paced play," and it will feature up to four-player multiplayer action via the PSP's Wi-Fi capabilities.

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