The Hobbit: Kingdoms of Middle-Earth

Update 12:47 a.m. PST, January 11:¬†The Hobbit is back up and running. I have email confirmation from¬†Swasey, Kabam’s vice president of communications, that he is checking on the situation.

The superpopular Tolkien take-off The Hobbit: Kingdoms of Middle-earth is apparently too popular. Gamemaker Kabam can’t seem keep the game live tonight as its servers have been crashing continually, making sustained gameplay impossible.

Kingdoms of Middle-earth has been marching up the iOS app leaderboards, with the success of The Hobbit movie helping propel it to eleventh on the top-grossing app list in the U.S. It gained three spots just this week. In the game, players get a city in world similar to that of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, build might by training soldiers such as elves and Ents while leveling up farms, mines, city walls, and more. You can also form alliances with other players and attack enemies to get their resources and money.

But this past week, it has been increasingly unreliable, causing the dreaded error message: “Balrogs! There was a network error. Please retry.” And tonight, the game has been virtually unplayable.

Kingdoms of Middle-earth error message

Kabam’s Twitter account is of no assistance in determining why the game is down — the latest update there is from December 21. And Kabam’s dedicated The Hobbit Twitter feed has not been updated in the last eight hours. But after about an hour of failures to reconnect, the game now displays this message:

Kingdoms of Middle-earth under maintenance
VentureBeat is contacting Kabam to find out what is happening and why the game has been offline and will update this post when we know more.