Amazon has been announced as the “partner developer” for the upcoming The Lord of the Rings MMO. This project was announced by Athlon Games nearly a year ago, but they did not give clues into who this partner developer was. Now we know that Amazon will be partnering with Leyou, the holding company for Athlon Games, Splash Damage, and Digital Extremes.
Splash Damage and Digital Extremes combine for a lot of knowledge on multiplayer development. Digital Extremes has Warframe, Unreal Tournament, and the multiplayer components of BioShock 2 and Homefront under their belts. Splash Damage has experience with developing multiplayer components for Return to Castle Wolfenstein, Doom 3, Gears of War 4, and others. Meanwhile, Amazon Game Studios is already mid-way through developing another MMO, New Worlds. This team will certainly not be short of experience in the industry.
This, however, is secondary to the potential plotlines we could see. The Lord of the Rings is the fifth-highest-grossing movie franchise of all time, including the three films in The Hobbit series. The two books by the same names, that these films are based on, combine for roughly 250 million sales. Such an IP is not taken lightly by its fans. We know little about the plot other than that it takes place “long before the events of The Lord of the Rings,” and Athlon Games promises “epic exploration”.
It’s worth mentioning that The Lord of the Rings Online already exists as an MMORPG. It actually received a lot of acclaim for staying true to the universe and giving players a ton of ways to interact with and feel like a part of the world. It released in 2007, but it is still live and updated. It’s free to play on Steam or through the game’s website.
I find that MMOs rarely work when trying to tell an engaging story. Most focus so heavily on the online portion that they feel hollow because of a lack of context for what’s going on. Hopefully, this new project by Amazon and Leyou will do justice to The Lord of the Rings and MMOs.
Brandon is a young writer who loves going deep into games to explore meaning, purpose, and life. He believes that there’s nothing better than getting lost in a world full of characters to love and lessons to learn. He has a special place in his heart for single player games such as Mass Effect and Life Is Strange, but he also blows off some steam playing some of his favorite multiplayer games, like Paladins.