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

The head of Amazon Games has provided a new perspective on why the company’s Lord of the Rings MMO was canceled after several years in development.

The company confirmed last April that the free-to-play console and PC title, which it had been co-developing with Athlon Games, a US subsidiary of Hong Kong-based Leyou Technologies, had been scrapped.

According to a Bloomberg report at the time, the game’s cancellation was the result of a dispute between Amazon and Chinese tech giant Tencent, which Leyou acquired in December 2020.

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Speaking in a new GameSpot interview, Amazon Games president Christoph Hartmann revealed that Lord of the Rings licensee Middle-earth Enterprises has chosen to exercise a clause in its contract that allows it to terminate its license agreement. rights in the event that one of its partners is acquired.

After this happened, Hartmann said things got “very messy.” And while Amazon explored ways to continue working on the project with Tencent, it ended up walking away after failing to make progress in negotiations.

“The question was, sure, maybe I could have worked together with Tencent to do something, but I think we’re too big companies to really become partners doing a property together where they own the license and we develop the game,” Hartmann said. said.

“So we decided it’s better not to work together there. Then we tried to find something with both ends, but I think it dragged on too long.”

The canceled Lord of the Rings game was originally announced in 2018 by Athlon and Middle-earth Enterprises.

Athlon said at the time that it was working with a “partner developer” to create an online game set “long before the events of The Lord of the Rings, exploring lands, people and creatures never before seen by fans of the Tolkien universe.” .

In addition to co-developing the title, Amazon Games set out to market and publish the game globally, except for China, which would have been run by Leyou.

Amazon’s new Lord of the Rings TV series The Rings of Power premiered on its Prime Video streaming service this month.

In July, Embracer Group announced that it had reached an agreement to acquire Middle-earth Enterprises, which will give it film, game and other rights to JRR Tolkien’s works, including The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.

Tencent and Ubisoft announced a major strategic partnership this week. It will see Tencent take a stake in the family owned Ubisoft and also potentially double its stake in the Assassin’s Creed publisher. The deal also covers the development of mobile titles from several of Ubisoft’s major franchises.