Amazon Game Studios will collaborate with Hong Kong-based Leyou Technologies and Middle-earth Enterprises to develop and publish a free-to-play massively multiplayer online (MMO) game based on the milestone fantasy literary work The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien.
No release date has been set for the game. The game is part of a major bet that Amazon is making on Tolkien’s work, as Amazon Studios is also creating an Amazon Original TV series based on The Lord of the Rings for Prime Video unrelated to the game. That show will be based on the Second Age, or the period in the literary history that precedes the events of The Lord of the Rings.
Set in the world of Middle-earth portrayed in The Lord of the Rings literary trilogy, the game will give fans around the globe a new, immersive game experience for epic exploration of the vast world of Tolkien.
“We’re committed to bringing customers games of the highest quality, both with our own original IP as well as beloved cultural pillars like The Lord of the Rings,” said Christoph Hartmann, vice president of Amazon Game Studios, in a statement. “Tolkien’s Middle-earth is one of the richest fictional worlds in history, and it gives our team of experienced MMO developers – from the same studio developing New World – tremendous opportunity to play and create. We have a strong leadership team in place to helm this new project, and we’re actively growing our team to help build this incredible experience.”
Amazon Game Studios and Leyou will jointly develop the game for PC and consoles, and Amazon Game Studios will market and publish the title globally with the exception of China, which will be managed by Leyou. The collaboration brings together Amazon’s game technology and talented MMO developers, and Leyou’s expertise in designing free-to-play games and operating live-service games.
“Bringing Middle-earth to life necessitates having the very best partners, and Amazon’s customer obsession, technology, and talented teams make it the ideal choice for a co-developer and publisher,” said Alex Xu, CEO of Leyou Technologies Holdings, in a statement. “We believe our combined resources and expertise will result in a beautiful and compelling game that customers will love and play for years to come.”
The Lord of the Rings hasn’t been given the full video game treatment since Electronic Arts made console games loosely based on the Peter Jackson movies. But Warner Bros. and Monolith made the excellent prequel-era games, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor and Middle-earth: Shadow of War. Daedalic is separately working on The Lord of the Rings: Gollum.
“Who among us hasn’t wanted to take part in an epic adventure,” said Fredrica Drotos, Chief Brand and Licensing Officer at Middle-earth Enterprises. “More than 60 years after the publication of The Fellowship of the Ring, we’re delighted that Amazon Game Studios has partnered with Leyou to bring their respective expertise to build a much-anticipated game that will immerse us in the beloved, epic world of Middle-earth, envisioned by Professor Tolkien.”
The Amazon Game Studios leadership team includes veteran developers — such as John Smedley, Louis Castle, and Rich Hilleman — who helped create of some of the world’s most popular games. Amazon Game Studios is also home to New World, an in-development sandbox MMO game set in an alternate 17th-century world.
The same studio working on New World is also working on The Lord of the Rings game, with resources pooled from Amazon Game Studios locations in Seattle, Irvine, and San Diego. Leyou announced last year that Athlon Games, a subsidiary of Leyou, was working on a game based on The Lord of the Rings. This is the same game.