Amazon Game Studios, Amazon’s game development arm, was set to release a free-to-play Lord of the Rings MMO this year. However, the project was canceled in April last year, with reports at the time claiming that this was caused by a dispute with Tencent.
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Amazon Games president Christoph Hartmann has confirmed these reports in an interview with Gamespot, where he alluded to difficulties working with Tencent. Hartmann said that the project ran into difficulties when co-developer Leyou was acquired.
“We had a deal with a Hong Kong-based company, Leyou; I think it would have been great to work with them. But they later got sold to Tencent and it just got very complicated,” said Hartmann.
The Leyou acquisition complicated matters, as Middle-earth Enterprises had a contract clause which stated that it could terminate its right deal if either of its partners were acquired. Middle-earth Enterprises made use of this clause following the acquisition, bringing an end to the project.
While it would have been possible for development to continue, Amazon Games decided to step away from the project after negotiations dragged on.
“The question was, sure, maybe [we] could have worked together with Tencent to do something, but I think we’re too big as companies to really turn into partners doing a property together where they own the license and we develop the game,” said Hartmann. “So we decided it’s better to not work together there. Then we tried to figure something out with both ends, but I think it just dragged on too long.”
“I want to keep on investing in that,” said Hartmann. “I know, it’s not going to be Lord of the Rings, but we have our own fantasy; why not keep building on that.”
The Lord of the Rings IP is now owned by Embracer Group – who have also acquired a number of studios and IP from Square Enix, resulting in Crystal Dynamics taking control of the Tomb Raider franchise.