In the early years of the 21st Century, when one wanted media adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings,” they would flock to cinemas to watch the film trilogy of New Line Cinema from filmmaker Peter Jackson. These moves also generated videogame adaptations and spinoffs spanning multiple gaming platforms. Nowadays the company working on “LOTR” media adaptations is Amazon Studios. Not only do they have a streaming series in development, they also announced a massively multiplayer online game (MMORPG) for the franchise back in 2019. Or at least they had one in development, until it was recently cancelled.
The Verge has it that Amazon Game Studios has shut down work on their MMORPG project based on “The Lord of the Rings.” It was believed to be a companion game to Amazon Studios’ “LOTR” series, given that they are both set in a time period before the film/book trilogy, around the Second Age as detailed in Tolkien’s other books like the “Silmarillion.” The MMORPG was being co-developed by China’s Athlon Games since 2019. But Athlon’s parent company Leyou was acquired by Chinese tech giant Tencent in December 2020, and the “LOTR” was a casualty of the post-acquisition company reorganization.
As a result, this MMORPG becomes the latest cancelled title for Amazon Game Studios, which has released only a handful of game apps since 2014, none of which can be considered successful. Their 2019 release of “The Grand Tour,” adapted from the UK-produced Amazon Prime streaming series, was so savaged by reviews that the game was pulled from Amazon, PlayStation Store and Xbox Game Store. Causes for their problems were reported in Bloomberg as internal in nature, ranging from a slow game engine used in in-house development as well as unequal workplace advancement opportunities that are allegedly based on gender.
Despite the stumbling blocks, Amazon remains committed to pushing its games division according to CEO Andy Jassy. Amazon Games after all was opened by outgoing CEO and founder Jeff Bezos, and is therefore considered an integral arm of the company. Besides, Amazon Studios still has the “Lord of the Rings” series still ongoing, and they are so invested in the franchise that the first season alone is estimated to cost $456 million. That is dedication.
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