Weta Workshop is entering the video games industry with a new video game based on The Lord of the Rings, named Tales of the Shire.
As reported by Video Games Chronicle, Tales of the Shire did get the license from Embracer, but Weta has taken on another party as publisher: Private Division, the label owned by Take Two Interactive.
Weta Workshop’s surprise involvement is promising at the very least. The New Zealand based company was founded in 1987, and names itself after the wētā, a native Aotarean insect, that also happens to be one of the biggest insects in the world.
Weta is best known as the special effects company that worked on The Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit movies, but they have a more extensive history than that. They were already working with Peter Jackson on films like Heavenly Creatures and Meet The Feebles.
They did the make up and created creatures for the TV shows Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess. There is also a Weta FX, a digital effects company that is run independently but is still connected to the original Weta.
We don’t know all that much about Tales of the Shire, except that it is planned for release to PC and consoles. The fact that Private Division is the game’s publisher suggests that it isn’t being made as a AAA. It could be a somewhat casual game, possibly a simulation game like Disney Dreamlight Valley. Or, if it is an action game, it will be smaller in scope than most action AAA games. For example, it could use a top down perspective instead of full 3D.
We’re also not sure if this project is being undertaken by Weta FX, or Weta digital itself. In any case, it isn’t that hard to imagine that Weta would feel they have the experience to give video games a try. Much of their work already included CG, on top of the practical effects.
In spite of the recent failure of The Lord of the Rings: Gollum, LOTR is actually one of the more successful and lucrative franchises for video games. Outside of adaptations for the movies and the Lego games, Warner Bros saw great success themselves by publishing the Middle-earth series made by Monolith Productions. These games began with Guardians of Middle-Earth.
Monolith was already known as a veteran game studio when it made that game. We don’t know quite yet if Weta is entering the industry blind. At least we hope they also had people with experience in video games to help direct this project.
You can watch the trailer for Tales of the Shire below.