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Amazon is making a Lord of the Rings MMO (again)

After an earlier attempt was canceled, New World studio to make game based on The Hobbit and the book trilogy

A logo for The Lord of the Rings, with the words encased in a golden circle Image: Amazon Games
Oli Welsh is senior editor, U.K., providing news, analysis, and criticism of film, TV, and games. He has been covering the business & culture of video games for two decades.

Amazon Games has announced it’s making a new massively multiplayer online game based on The Lord of the Rings. Development is being led by New World studio Amazon Games Orange County. This is an all-new production, separate from an earlier attempt to make a Lord of the Rings MMO that was canceled by Amazon in 2021.

The game will be “an open-world MMO adventure in a persistent world set in Middle-earth, featuring the beloved stories of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings literary trilogy,” according to Amazon’s news release. It’s early in development and likely several years away, but will be coming to PC and consoles. That’s it, in terms of details.

Amazon struck a deal with The Lord of the Rings rights holder Middle-earth Enterprises, recently bought by Swedish conglomerate Embracer Group, to publish the game. Notably, Amazon has separate TV rights to J.R.R. Tolkien’s work, but these rights don’t cover the core Lord of the Rings texts — hence its Prime Video show The Rings of Power taking place in a different, much earlier time frame.

This isn’t the only example of Amazon collaborating with Embracer as a kind of back door into taking ownership of a multimedia entertainment franchise. Amazon reportedly intends to launch a TV show and movie based on Tomb Raider, as well as collaborate with studio Crystal Dynamics on a new game in the series. Embracer bought Crystal Dynamics and the rights to Tomb Raider from Square Enix last year, and clearly sees Amazon as the right partner to help it turn Lara Croft into a global multimedia franchise.

Amazon’s Lord of the Rings MMO won’t be the first game of its kind. The Lord of the Rings Online launched in 2007 in the wake of World of Warcraft’s massive success; it was pretty good, and is still in operation, though it never reached as big an audience as its inspiration.

Amazon is building a decent track record in the MMO space, having successfully launched its own New World and the Western version of Smilegate’s Korean hit Lost Ark, so it’s quite well placed to make a success of a Lord of the Rings MMO — although it’s notoriously tricky to make licensed properties work in the genre.

It’s certainly not the only iron that Embracer has in the games-based-on-Tolkien fire. In February, Embracer said it expected to launch five games based on The Lord of the Rings in two years, including Gollum and EA’s mobile game Heroes of Middle-earth.

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