Amazon abandoned the project after negotiations failed to reach an agreement with Tencent.
When Amazon’s Lord Of The Rings MMO was abruptly cancelled last year, we wondered what the reason might have been for the negotiations between the giant and Tencent breaking down after what we felt was a significant amount of hype around the game.
In an interview with Gamespot, Amazon Games president Christoph Hartmann revealed that after the involvement of Tencent – a Chinese tech giant with investments worldwide – the game’s development became so complicated that the US company decided to drop the whole thing instead.
Hartmann said the companies “maybe could have worked together” on another project, but they were “too big as companies to really turn into partners” on the MMO. So Amazon moved on.
The US giant’s original deal for the LOTR MMO was with Hong Kong-based Leyou, a practically microscopic company compared to the vast masses of Amazon and Tencent. Things were going relatively well until Tencent bought Leyou in December 2020. That put a damper on the works: Middle-earth Enterprises, the holder of the LOTR rights, terminated its rights to the MMO’s LOTR license, necessitating a new agreement.
Negotiations have been protracted, but it seems that Tencent and Amazon simply could not agree on how to split the Tolkien cake. Hartmann claims that the disagreement stemmed from a dispute over which mega-company should hold the relevant rights. He mentions that a situation where the Chinese company holds the licence and the US company develops the game was unacceptable, so the US side decided to pull out.
It seems that both giant companies came out well.
Tencent continues to slowly and inevitably draw companies around it, while Amazon has several successful MMOs to its name, including Lost Ark and New World. “I want to keep on investing in that,” Hartmann says, somewhat hopefully. “I know, it’s not going to be Lord of the Rings, but we have our own fantasy; why not keep building on that.”
While the US company has unveiled its Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power series to huge hype and enthusiasm, one has to wonder whether a small part of the corporate giant might not want a lucrative Middle-earth MMO to show off to new viewers.
Fans of the series can look forward to the upcoming Gollum game and Take Two’s Private Division project, but after that, any future Lord of the Rings games will come from Embracer Group, which recently acquired the rights to adapt the books. Tencent and Amazon are giants, but Embracer itself is on an acquisition spree, it clearly has the money, and it’s no coincidence that it bought these rights.