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Amazon Games boss explains why its Lord of the Rings MMO was canceled

Amazon had originally intended to publish an MMO for Lord of the Rings, but its developer Leyou being purchased by Tencent threw a wrench into plans.

Justin Carter

September 8, 2022

2 Min Read
Poster for WB's Lord of the Rings: Return of the King.

According to Amazon Games president Christoph Hartmann, the company's planned MMO based on J.R.R. Tolkein's novel The Lord of the Rings was canceled because it had to factor in its planned developer Leyou being purchased by Tencent in 2020. 

Speaking to Gamespot, Hartmann explained that things hit a snag once another company got thrown into the mix. "I think it would have been great to work with Leyou," said Hartmann. "But they later got sold to Tencent and it just got very complicated."

Amazon purchased the rights to Lord of the Rings in 2017 so it could make its newly released show, The Rings of Power.  The MMO was announced in 2019 and canceled in 2021, with the explanation being that neither Amazon or Tencent were able to come to an agreement on Leyou's contract. 

If there were any chance for a happy medium with the LOTR game, Hartmann seemed skeptical that it could've happened.  "We tried to figure something out with both ends, but I think it just dragged on too long," he explained. "I think we're too big as companies to really turn into partners...where they own the license and we develop the game."

When Amazon announced the cancellation of its MMO, the company was having struggles in making headway into games. Such troubles included the cancellation of its hero shooter, Crucible.

The situation around LOTR has gotten even more complicated in just 2022 alone. Last month, Embracer Group acquired the worldwide rights to Lord of the Rings, which includes movies and games. Embracer CEO Lars Wingfors has already teased the "transmedia opportunities" that await the franchise. 

Additionally, Electronic Arts signed a deal in the spring to create an LOTR game for mobile platforms. 

Lord of the Rings has had a decent track record in the games space, as Monolith Productions' two Middle-earth games will attest. There's also the continued success of Lord of the Rings Online, which has been running since 2007 and received a new expansion in 2021. 

About the Author(s)

Justin Carter

Contributing Editor, GameDeveloper.com

A Kansas City, MO native, Justin Carter has written for numerous sites including IGN, Polygon, and SyFy Wire. In addition to Game Developer, his writing can be found at io9 over on Gizmodo. Don't ask him about how much gum he's had, because the answer will be more than he's willing to admit.

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