Why Amazon’s Lord Of The Rings MMO Was Canceled
Amazon Games has been developing the Lord of the Rings MMO with Chinese game developers Leyou and China Earth Enterprises for years.There’s a lot of hype about this game, but it’s Sudden cancellation in 2021leaving fans scratching their heads wondering how it all fell apart.
Amazon Games president Christopher Hartman told GameSpot that when Leyou was sold to Tencent, its Lord of the Rings MMO disintegrated. Things got “very complicated,” with Amazon Gaming opting to simply cut ties and move on.
“We had a deal with Leyou, a Hong Kong-based company; I thought it would be great to work with them. But they were sold to Tencent and things got very complicated,” Hartman said.
Licensee Middle-earth Enterprises has written a clause in its contract that allows it to terminate its rights deal if one of its partners is acquired, Hartman said. When Tencent acquired Leyou, China-Turkey exercised this option and everything stopped.
Hartmann said it might be possible to figure out a way to continue developing the Lord of the Rings MMO, but Amazon Games — after negotiations dragged on for a while — chose to drop the game.
“The problem is, of course, maybe it’s possible to do something with Tencent, but I think we’re too big as a company to really be a partner to develop the property that they have a license for, and we develop the game,” Hartman said. “So we decided it was better not to work there together. Then we tried to figure out what was on both ends, but I think it dragged on for too long.”
While Amazon Games may have lost the Lord of the Rings MMO, the company has two successful MMOs, including New World and Lost Ark. “I want to keep investing in this. I know, it’s not going to be the Ring of Lords, but we have our fantasies; why not keep going,” Hartman said.
Also, Lord of the Rings fans aren’t completely left out of the MMO space, as Standing Stone’s Lord of the Rings Online is still going strong. It’s even growing, with Standing Stone slowly revealing details of an upcoming expansion called Before the Shadow.
Amazon’s Lord of the Rings MMO appears to open up some synergy opportunities with the company’s newly released The Lord of the Rings: Ring of Power series. However, this is not doomed.
Outside of the MMO, Electronic Arts is working on a new Lord of the Rings mobile game, Heroes of Middle-earth, and The Lord of the Rings: Gollum is also launching from Daedalic Entertainment.
More Lord of the Rings games are likely to come, as the rights to the video game have already been sold to Borderlands studio owner Embracer through the acquisition of Middle-earth Enterprises.
While Amazon’s Lord of the Rings game may not be a hit yet, industry veteran John Smedley (a major figure in defining the MMO EverQuest genre) is leading Amazon’s San Diego team, which is building an unannounced live-service game. Smedley couldn’t tell GameSpot what the game was, or when it would be released, but he teased that it was already in public beta with the goal of having a 10-year-plus lifespan. He also teased that Amazon’s vast server network — AWS — could play a big role in helping global server infrastructure, stability, and deployment.
“I can’t say what I’m doing, but if I want to do a 500-person test tomorrow, I can actually light up AWS’s server farm in five minutes from my desk, from a dashboard I can access To. I don’t need to requisition anything, there’s no money involved, it’s simple, straightforward, boom,” Smedley said.
He recalled pitching Hartman three games to see what Amazon San Diego could create, and was surprised when Hartman chose what Smedley said was the most difficult and difficult concept for his team. .
“He picked the hardest one, but he also picked the one that stood out from everything else, because there’s nothing like it,” Smedley said. “Seeing someone pick the hard ones? It was like, ‘Wow.’ This guy had something that really stood out, and he found it right away.”
For more, check out GameSpot’s interview with Hartmann about his life and career.
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