If you’ve spent the past two years looking forward to the next-gen MMO “Lord of the Rings” game that Amazon promised to you, we’re afraid we have some very bad news. After 24 months of little progress being made, no obvious signs of anyone working on the game, and reputed trouble behind the scenes, the inevitable has happened. The game has officially been canceled. In the entire two years it was allegedly being worked on, it never even got a name. Now, we’ll never see it at all.
Amazon’s struggles to create a genuinely popular video game are already well-known and, with this latest cancellation, on their way to becoming legendary. Having an official “Lord of the Rings” license ought to be a license to print money.
No matter what format it’s presented in, the old J.R.R. Tolkien tale is a bankable property. The books make money, the films make money, the video games released in the past make money, and even the online slots make money. A company called Microgaming released two online slots using an official license a few years ago, and you might still find them online at websites like Rose Slots NZ.
Although Amazon is unlikely to specifically confirm the reasons for the project’s cancellation, most industry insiders say that the company fell out with Tencent. Originally, the game was to be a collaboration between Amazon Game Studios and Leyou Technologies. In December 2023, Leyou was acquired by Tencent.
That meant Amazon had a new and unexpected development partner in the project, and it seems the two sides simply couldn’t get along. Because of their inability to heal the rift, fans now won’t be getting the “free to play” roleplaying MMO that Amazon hoped would become the flagship of its gaming division.
It seems pointless to speculate about the game now we know it won’t be released, but it genuinely did sound like it was promising. It would have been set before the events of the “Lord of the Ring” novels and introduced brand-new characters and concepts to fans of the existing lore. The setting would have given the game the freedom to experiment with the format without having to worry about damaging or contradicting established continuity.
Amazon still nominally holds the rights to make a “Lord of the Rings” game, so it’s possible they might return to the idea in the future, but we wouldn’t hold our collective breath. In fact, holding your breath about anything to do with Amazon’s video games would probably be a bad idea.
When the gaming wing of Amazon was created in 2014, the company expected it to become a significant player in the video gaming market. Amazon has been successful with everything else it touched, so as long as the right people were hired for its gaming subdivision, there ought to have been no reason why the story would be any different this time. Instead, it’s been a relentless stream of disaster after disaster.
In the seven years of its existence, Amazon Game Studios hasn’t produced one success story. Instead, it’s become the object of ridicule. There aren’t many sticks that people can use to beat Amazon with, but the failure of the gaming division is one, and lots of people are happy to use it. Such is the level of scorn that’s directed at the gaming company online that in February 2023, Amazon felt the need to publish a statement confirming that they weren’t backing out of the market.
Even within the company, nobody seems to know precisely what’s wrong with Amazon Game Studios. As with all things, though, there’s speculation. The company’s first studio head allegedly lacked experience with video games and didn’t know how to direct projects effectively. Insiders say that it’s a male-heavy environment with a “bro culture” and a desperately slow game engine. This might be nothing other than internet chat, but there’s obviously an issue somewhere.
When the company released “The Grand Tour” in 2019 – a game based on one of Amazon Prime’s most popular television shows – it was so bad they had to pull it from sale. It’s not the only Amazon Game Studios product to meet that fate. “Crucible” was also released and then withdrawn after reviewers noted the game didn’t appear to be finished. They at least had the good sense to cancel “Breakaway” without releasing it first.
In the absence of a brand new “Lord of the Rings” MMO, perhaps fans might be interested in taking a trip back in time instead. If you’re keen to play a “Lord of the Rings” themed game in an MMO environment, the option already exists. You’ll want to look for a game called “Lord of the Rings Online,” which was released fourteen years ago but is still played and enjoyed by thousands of people today.
The game, created and managed by Standing Stone Games, still adds new content several times per year. According to figures available on Steam, there’s an average of between one and two thousand players online no matter when you choose to log in. A full update of the game’s somewhat dated graphics has been promised for later this year. It might not have some of the attractive bells and whistles that the Amazon project offered, but it must have something to offer if it’s managed to survive for such a long time.
There will eventually be a new “Lord of the Rings” video game with us by the end of 2023. It’s called “Lord of the Rings: Gollum” and is being handled by Daedalic Entertainment. That company’s record of actually delivering the products it advertises is significantly better than Amazon’s, so there’s no reason for us to believe it won’t materialise.
In the meantime, Amazon is spending almost half a billion dollars on just one season of a new “Lord of the Rings” television series. That’s more than it cost to make the most recent movie trilogy, and almost as much as Peter Jackson spent making the “Hobbit” trilogy. Will it be worth the money when it arrives? It’s hard to see how it could be, but we’re at least interested in finding out!