why Amazon canceled the MMORPG promised to success

The big boss of Amazon Games returns to the cancellation of the MMORPG Lord of the Ringsabruptly canceled in 2021.

Franchise The Lord of the Rings is more than ever in the spotlight thanks to the series Rings of Powerand the saga is about to make a return to PC and console with the highly anticipated The Lord of the Rings: Gollum which should land in early 2023. But before the sensational arrival of Rings of Power and the return of Sméagol, Amazon had already planned the return of the king of fantasy licenses, thanks to the MMORPG Lord of the Ringsthe design of which was started in 2018.

While all the signals were green for the beast to experience a monster success, after three years of development, the project was abruptly interrupted and scrapped. After more than a year of complete silence regarding this video game disaster, Amazon Games CEO Christoph Hartmann has opened up to the GameSpot website, and shed some light on the reasons for the failure of Lords of the Rings MMORPG.

Lhis first artworks sent dreams

Announced in 2018, LOTR MMORPG was to be one of the spearheads of the Amazon Games stable. Designed internally by the development studios of the American group, the game was overseen by the Chinese group Leyou Technologies, in charge of the production of the title.

The project was all in all quite simple, but devilishly ambitious: to offer a large open world where players could embody at their leisure a hero from one of the races inhabiting Middle-earth, elves, humans, hobbits… Or camp a door – banner of the forces of Evil. Over the course of the campaigns, either side could have had an influence on how the game world evolved.

Rather than relying on Peter Jackson’s sacrosanct film trilogy, the Amazon Games studio said it wanted rely instead on the books of JRR Tolkienin order to offer a particular color to its game. Amazon Games had given itself the means of its ambitions by recruiting veterans who had worked on the cult EverQuest, World of Warcraft, Planetsideand destiny.

Lord of the Rings MMORPG: PicturePsmall tear in the eye seeing the banner of Gondor

Initially scheduled for release in 2022 (to accompany the release of Rings of Power or not, the question remains open), the project began to experience serious internal setbacks at the end of 2020, when the Chinese giant Tencent bought the Leyou Technologies group. Hartman said: “We had an agreement with a Hong Kong-based company, Leyou. I think it would have been great to work with them. But then they were sold to Tencent and it got very complicated.”

The two economic titans Tencent and Amazon have had great difficulty agreeing on the direction to take LOTR MMORPG. If this is not clearly explained in the interview granted to GameSpot, it is more than likely that Tencent wanted to ensure that the title was a great success on Chinese territory, where gamers are fond of MMORPGs, and that some decisions have come up against Amazon Games’ vision for this project.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring: PhotoHASatmosphere in the corridors of Amazon during the negotiations

Christoph Hartman explained in very political terms that the companies Tencent and Amazon were simply too powerful, and that there were therefore too many economic stakes behind the title LOTR MMORPG so that it can survive:

“The question was, of course, maybe we could have worked together with Tencent to do something, but I think we’re too big as a company to really become partners doing a common work together where they own the license and we develop the game.”

Faced with the conflicts between Amazon and Tencent, Middle-Earth Enterprises, the company holding the rights of the Lord of the Ringspreferred to withdraw its marbles from the case, thus condemning the project to death.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King: Cinematographer, Sean AstinRare image of Christoph Hartmann leaving the project

Despite this scathing disappointment, Amazon Games has not abandoned its desire to create an MMORPG capable of competing with the behemoths of the genre. The massively multiplayer role-playing game New World, designed by Amazon Games Studios was hugely successful when it launched in September 2021breaking attendance and viewership records on Twitch.

As for Middle Earth Enterprises, the company is in the process of being acquired by Embracer Group (owner of the franchises Tomb Raider, Duke Nukem, Deus Ex…). If this acquisition materializes, and given the excellent health of the franchise LOTRit is likely that the market will receive many projects for adaptations, spin-offs, prequels or other original video game creations from the Lord of the Ringsx in the years to come.


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