If you have been living under a rock, as I mostly am, Amazon cancelled their planned “Lord of the Rings”-based MMORPG, after they had difficulty renegotiating contracts with Tencent. Well, that sucks. But it also raises a lot of questions for LOTR-fans, who were eagerly awaiting this title.
First off, where do we go from here? Sure, there is always “Lord of the Rings Online”, if we want to play in Middle-Earth. This decision certainly benefits Standing Stone Games (the folks behind LOTRO) quite a bit, but it also leaves LOTR-fans with only that one option to try to experience a living, breathing Middle-Earth.
The problem with this is that LOTRO is extremely dated, glitchy, with aging graphics, and is full of microtransactions. For those looking for a modern, up-to-date take on Middle-Earth, this is simply not going to suffice.
Next is the question of what does this mean for the MMORPG licensing for LOTR? Yes, SSG has the license to produce LOTRO, and that likely won’t end anytime soon, but what will happen with the license Amazon held? Does it end if they don’t produce a game by a particular date? If so, does this mean Amazon will try again to produce a LOTR-based MMORPG, or another multiplayer game, before the time expires? Or will they simply let it revert back to the rights holders?
Amazon is being extremely quiet on this subject, so I would assume that they will simply let the project die, and be done with it. There is simply no way they can produce a quality multiplayer LOTR game to come out in conjunction with their upcoming “Lord of the Rings” series now. They could get something out a few years later, but not in time to help bolster views of their series (and vice versa).
Again, this only serves to bolster LOTRO and Standing Stone Games.
But, what about this: What if Amazon were to buy SSG away from Enad Global 7? Then Amazon would have the license they currently hold (likely to produce 2nd Age content in Middle-Earth, where LOTRO is set in the 3rd Age and beyond), plus SSG’s LOTR license, as well.
Regardless, consider this for a moment: The developers at SSG under the aegis of Amazon, with all of their resources, given one goal: Bolster up content in LOTRO, and fix glitches, leading up to the release of Amazon’s upcoming series and beyond. They would have Amazon’s resources for development, for marketing, for staffing and technical support (imagine LOTRO running on Amazon servers all over the world, rather than the data servers currently hosting the game near Boston).
In short, this sort of a partnership could serve Amazon’s interests, as well as SSG’s, not to mention us LOTR fans.
Are there potential drawbacks? Of course. Amazon has a bit of an issue with demanding their developers use the Lumberyard engine, and at this point, I think it is a little late in LOTRO’s lifecycle to do much about that… unless of course SSG is given resources to build “Lord of the Rings Online 2”, while LOTRO remains in operation.
Then again, I hear Lumberyard is notoriously hard to work with, so maybe that isn’t really a good idea. LOTRO 2 is a good idea, I just wouldn’t wish building it with Lumberyard on the poor devs at SSG. Of course, if a team was tasked with doing this LOTRO 2 project, using the bones already built for Amazon’s upcoming MMORPG “New World”…
The point is this: Amazon either teaming up with SSG, or buying SSG outright, would be a great option. Amazon could then work with SSG to fix up LOTRO, in advance of the new LOTR series coming in the next year or so, while working on an updated version of LOTRO (2?), for a while further down the road. In this way, Amazon doesn’t have to deal with Tencent and their asshattery, while LOTR fans gets to see significant upgrades for the only LOTR-based MMORPG currently on the market, with the hope of seeing a truly modern MMORPG set in Middle-Earth five or so years later down the line.