The upcoming The Lord of the Rings MMO from Amazon Games and Embracer Group

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Amazon Games and Embracer Group today announced a deal for Amazon Games to develop and publish a new massively multiplayer online game (MMO) based on The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien.

The deal is the first major partnership to come to light since Embracer Group purchased the rights to Tolkien’s properties through its acquisition of Middle-earth Enterprises. Middle-earth Foundation is now part of the Freemode division of Embracer.

The upcoming game will be an open-world multiplayer online adventure in a persistent world set in Middle-earth, featuring the beloved stories of the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings literary trilogy. Early game
Stages of production, with Amazon Games Orange County – makers of the popular open world MMO
New World Game – leading development. The announcement comes shortly after Electronic Arts released its mobile game The Lord of the Rings: Heroes of Middle-earth. Another title, The Lord of the Rings: Gollum, comes from Daedalic Entertainment and its owner and publisher, Nacon.

“We are committed to bringing players high-quality games, whether through original IPs or long-loved games like The Lord of the Rings,” said Christoph Hartmann, Vice President of Amazon Games, in a statement. “Bringing players a new The Lord of the Rings experience has always been an ambition of our team, and we are proud and grateful that Middle-earth Enterprises has entrusted us with this iconic world. We are also pleased to be expanding our relationship with Embracer Group following last year’s Tomb Raider deal, as they proved to be Excellent collaborators.”

It happened

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Amazon Games will publish the game globally for PC and consoles. Additional details, including launch timing, will be shared at a later date.

“The world of Middle-earth continues to prove an endlessly fertile ground for creators, and Amazon Games has a passion for building immersive, engaging worlds and publishing games for a global audience,” Freemode CEO Lee Guinchard said in a statement. “We have a clear ambition to create high-quality entertainment products for this IP, whether we use in-house resources or collaborate with industry-best partners who complement our capabilities. We are dedicated to delivering an MMO that will do justice to the vast Middle-earth universe and delight gamers around the world.”

After spending years in the wilderness, Amazon Games is doing one better.

The yet-untitled The Lord of the Rings continues Amazon Games’ growing momentum in the game
publishing and development, following the success of the in-house developed MMO New World and Smilegate RPG’s action RPG Lost Ark, both of which topped the Steam, Twitch, and YouTube charts.
Continue to nurture strong player communities.

Amazon also announced publishing deals with NCSOFT for Throne and Liberty, Bandai Namco Online for Blue Protocol, Crystal Dynamics for the next mainline Tomb Raider game, and Glowmade and Disruptive Games for unannounced titles.

Separately, Amazon Studios produces the hit series The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power for Prime Video, which is set during Tolkien’s second era of Middle-earth and is unrelated to this upcoming series.
An MMO in development with Amazon Games. Episodes of Power has been renewed for a second season.

Early false start

Amazon already had a previous project based on The Lord of the Rings, but that one died early. Middle-earth Enterprises announced in 2018 that it had licensed Athlone Games in Los Angeles to create a free-to-play game based on The Lord of the Rings. Leyou, which was later acquired by Tencent, created Athlon Games for this project.

Then Amazon Games and Leyou announced in 2019 that Amazon would take over this project. Then that deal ended when Tencent bought Leyou and the legal picture got complicated. An Amazon spokesperson said that deal is essentially over and this new deal has nothing to do with that.

Middle-earth Enterprises has acquired the rights to film, merchandise, theatrical productions, and other projects—namely, video games—more than 40 years ago based on Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. The Embracer Group then acquired Middle Earth Enterprises in 2022.

As for the canceled game, an Amazon Games spokesperson said, “Last time, it simply had to do with licensing complications. We had a deal with Leyou based in Hong Kong; I thought it was great to work with them. But they were later sold to Tencent and it became This time around, we’re building on our existing relationship with Embracer Group stemming from Tomb Raider’s deal with Crystal Dynamics. We’re honored that they have entrusted us with such iconic intellectual property as The Lord of the Rings.”

Now this new deal shows Embracer Group licensing games more aggressively based on the Tolkien license, and I’m hopeful we’ll have more from this new ownership of the company. David Cole, an analyst with DFC Intelligence, sees the Amazon-Embracer deal as a good sign.

“The main thing I see is that Amazon is still very committed to gaming and they now have some experience under their belts,” Cole said in an email to GamesBeat. “We’re also increasingly seeing games tied to movies/TV shows and it’s clear that Amazon has a significant investment in LOTR in this area.”

He indicated that this project will be handled by the New World team.

“Live service games are tough so I hope they meet expectations. But I think they learned some lessons about putting out these kinds of games that hopefully serve them,” Cole said. “It’s very different from traditional boxed product releases and even well-known publishers struggle with direct service games.”

And Cole said, “Amazon, like other big players who have suffered setbacks, continues to do so. An important theme in our recent and upcoming research is how companies like Google, Amazon, and Microsoft have so many experiments, some of which will fail. However, that is the nature of the monster. “

Meanwhile, Pierce Harding-Rolls, an analyst at Ampere Analysis, said in an email to GamesBeat that he’s also impressed by Amazon Games’ steady and deliberate progress in building its game pipeline over the past 18 months.

“There is now good flexibility in its strategy, as it is happy to either act as publisher, co-development or develop entirely in-house depending on circumstances. This hands-on approach gives it the best chance of expanding into a significant player in game publishing,” said Harding-Rolls.

He added, “Amazon has been keen on developing a Lord of the Rings MMO for a good few years and wants to gradually generate synergies across the franchise in both video and games. After giving away a title co-developed with Leyou, this new deal represents another opportunity for the business.” directly with Middle-earth Enterprises and builds on Tomb Raider’s already secured partnership with Embracer.”

He said Amazon Games has deep experience with MMO games, which means they are well-positioned to reuse their technology and development skills to bring The Lord of the Rings to life. Support for console platforms is important. For example, Final Fantasy XIV maintains a very active user base across PlayStation and Xbox. While its monthly active users are much smaller than the biggest games, it’s still near the top in terms of engagement. He said Amazon will seek to tap into this engaged audience.

“MMOS are going through something of a resurgence. There are very few new MMO games in production and there is a feeling across part of the industry that there is an opportunity to modernize the landscape and disrupt established companies that have dominated for many years,” said Harding-Rolls.

The launch year has not yet been determined. Amazon Games said it is building on its existing relationship with Embracer Group stemming from Tomb Raider’s deal with Crystal Dynamics. Amazon Games will bring its full suite of publishing tools across marketing, communications, cross-platform operations, and more to make this game a success. An Amazon spokesperson said that the game had nothing to do with Amazon Studios’ work on Rings of Power, which takes place during the Second Age of Middle-earth and had nothing to do with the new game.

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