Sorry, Tolkien fans; it looks like you won’t be getting your Middle Earth video game fix from Amazon. After a few years of development, the company revealed this week that it’s canceling its Lord of the Rings MMO. Or, to be more specific, Amazon and Tencent are mutually abandoning the project.
The news comes from a Bloomberg report. The MMO was first announced in 2019, while details and rumors had surfaced as early as 2018. While we never saw any footage or images of the game in development, the MMO allegedly took place in the Second Age, before the events of the books. An Amazon spokesperson told Bloomberg, “We love the Lord of the Rings IP, and are disappointed that we won’t be bringing this game to customers.” The company is still working on its Lord of the Rings show at this time.
The cause? A contract negotiation apparently fell through. When the MMO was announced, Amazon was making the game in collaboration with Athlon Games, a studio owned by Leyou, the China-based publisher behind Warframe. Leyou was acquired last year by Tencent, the Chinese corporation that has bought shares in several major gaming enterprises in the last year. After the acquisition, Amazon and Tencent entered negotiations but were unable to settle on terms.
One wonders whether this means Leyou/Athlon/Tencent is abandoning all plans for a Lord of the Rings game. According to reports from 2018, it was Athlon Games that got the license to make a Lord of the Rings video game, so it’s unlikely Amazon would be able to make its own game. Besides, Amazon’s recent track record with games has been tepid at best. Not only has it laid off dozens of its developers, but it also canceled its shooter Crucible, and is currently in a very long development cycle with its other original title, New World.