Back in 2019, it was announced Amazon Games would collaborate with Leyou Technologies and Middle-earth Enterprises in the development of a Free to Play Lord of the Rings MMO for PC and Console.
Not much information has been released so far about the title, but earlier in 2020 some info was revealed in documents related to the acquisition of Leyou by Tencent.
So what do we know so far?
The project was originally announced in 2018, by Athlon Games, a subsidiary of Leyou, who had signed a long-term licensing agreement with Middle-earth Enterprises.
“It’s a singular opportunity to work closely with Middle-earth Enterprises to create a completely new experience for fans of the landmark fantasy work of J.R.R. Tolkien, and we are excited about the resurgence of interest in The Lord of the Rings IP”
The game will be a AAA title developed in Amazon Lumberyard, a game engine developed by Amazon, based on the well known Cryengine.
Amazon Studios’ other upcoming MMO title New World is also being built in Lumberyard, as well as Star Citizen which is in development by Cloud Imperium Games.
Several of the developers working at Amazon Studios have previous MMO experience from World of Warcraft, Everquest and Rift to name a few.
The new Lord of the Rings MMO will be set sometime in the second age, which spans for 3441 years and ends with the first downfall of Sauron.
In the initial announcement by Athlon it was stated that the game would take place “at a time long before the events of The Lord of the Rings, exploring lands, people and creatures never seen before by fans of the Tolkien universe.”
According to Leyou the expected launch for the LotR MMO is somewhere between Q4 2021 to Q1 2023.
It was also indicated in the document that a “draft of complete game lore and narrative” is to be completed by January 11th, 2021.
This means that players will likely be able to join a beta somewhere around 2022, which fits pretty well with general MMO production times which are usually around 5 years from initial announcement to launch.
Amazon Lord of the Rings TV Series
Amazon also has the Lord of the Rings TV series on the horizon, which finished filming in late December 2020.
The MMO is being developed independently from the series but since Amazon is behind both projects, it only makes sense that the MMO will be released in time to benefit from the hype from the show.
Will it kill the Lord of the Rings Online
With a new LotR MMO on the horizon with such a big company backing it, one might think that this will spell the death of the well established The Lord of the Rings Online, which came out in 2007.
But in an investor presentation related to the sale of Daybreak and Standing Stone Games who owns and operates LotRO to Enad Global 7, it was revealed that the game still boasted healthy active monthly player numbers of well over 100K players.
It was also revealed that the developers plan on a graphic overhaul and possibly a console release to capitalize on the Amazon TV series release.