Game publisher and developer Turbine, Inc. has announced that it has finalized a deal with Tolkien Enterprises and VU Games that grants Turbine the exclusive right to develop and publish massively multiplayer online worlds based on The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit literary works.
As part of the agreement, Turbine will own all of the game assets to the upcoming, highly anticipated massively multiplayer online role playing game The Lord of the Rings(tm): Middle-Earth Online
. All publishing responsibilities previously assumed by VU Games for the online license have been transitioned to Turbine effective immediately.
"As the exclusive publisher, Turbine looks forward to bringing J.R.R. Tolkien's vibrant worlds to online gamers around the globe," said Jeffrey Anderson, president and CEO, Turbine, Inc.
The company has recently made aggressive strides in the MMO market, following significant venture capital funding - it purchased its self-developed Asheron's Call
franchise from Microsoft in early 2004, and is also self-funding Dungeons & Dragons Online
As part of this announcement, however, it's been confirmed that Turbine will launch Middle-Earth Online
in 2006, significantly delayed from an original launch date of October 2004, but presumably done to ensure much-needed quality in a post-World Of WarCraft