Amazon Games had grand plans for the Lord of the Rings IP in the late 2010s, with a major MMO announced in 2018. It would have been a sweeping adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s beloved world, and was planned to spotlight the second age of Middle-Earth – the very same featured in Amazon’s The Rings of Power adaptation. But while anticipation for the title was high, it was officially cancelled in 2021. Now, Amazon Games president Christoph Hatmann is speaking about why.
In a new interview with GameSpot‘s Eddie Makuch, Hartmann explained that development on the game became extremely complicated due to the acquisition of Chinese game developer, Leyou. The company was bought by Tencent mid-development on the Lord of the Rings game, complicating its development cycle and business dealings.
‘We had a deal with a Hong Kong-based company, Leyou; I think it would have been great to work with them. But they later got sold to Tencent and it just got very complicated,’ Hartmann told Gamespot.
Middle-earth Enterprises, the company in charge of J.R.R. Tolkien’s creative IP, reportedly had a termination clause in the Amazon Games contract that stated it could nuke the project if a partner was acquired – and chose to exercise this option when communication broke down.
‘The question was, sure, maybe could have worked together with Tencent to do something, but I think we’re too big as companies to really turn into partners doing a property together where they own the license and we develop the game,’ Hartmann said.
Talks reportedly ‘dragged on too long’, despite both companies working together to ‘figure something out on both ends’. Negotiations stretched out, and put the game’s quality and development cycle in jeopardy – leading to the unfortunate termination.
That said, dealing with the Lord of the Rings IP hasn’t been all bad news for Amazon. In the same period the company was working on the mystery ‘second age’ Lord of the Rings MMO, it was also developing TV series, The Rings of Power. This debuted in September to rave reviews from fans of the franchise, and continues to enjoy a solid run on Amazon’s streaming platform.
Meanwhile, Middle-earth Enterprises is currently in the process of being acquired by Embracer Group, which has a long history in the games industry. Should this acquisition go through, it’s likely we’ll see even more plans for Lord of the Rings video game adaptations, spin-offs, prequels, and sequels in future.