Amazon has cancelled its Lord of the Rings MMO.
Bloomberg reports the game, which was announced in 2019, was scrapped over a dispute between Amazon and Chinese mega-corp Tencent.
In July 2019, Amazon’s game development arm, Amazon Game Studios, revealed it was co-developing a new free-to-play MMO based on JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Amazon was working with LA-based developer Athlon Games – a subsidiary of Chinese publisher Leyou Technologies, owner of Warframe developer Digital Extremes and Splash Damage. In December, Tencent bought Leyou, which forged contract negotiations over the Lord of the Rings MMO. Bloomberg said these negotiations led to a dispute that ultimately resulted in the game’s cancellation.
An Amazon spokesperson told Bloomberg that after Tencent’s acquisition of Leyou, “we have been unable to secure terms to proceed with this title at this time.”
“We love the Lord of the Rings IP, and are disappointed that we won’t be bringing this game to customers.”
The Amazon team working on the game will be moved to other projects, Bloomberg said.
Amazon’s Lord of the Rings MMO was expected to come out at some point in 2022, and was set to be published by Amazon outside of China, according to disclosure documents filed as part of Tencent’s acquisition of Leyou.
The new game was going to be set prior to the events of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and was previously described as an “AAA experience” featuring “lands, people and creatures never seen before”.
The project was greenlit, according to Leyou Technologies, “in light of the resurgence of interest in The Lord of the Rings IP”, which many took to be a reference to Amazon’s upcoming $1bn Lord of the Rings television series.
The cancellation is the latest setback for Amazon Game Studios, which is yet to release a game. In October Amazon canceled Crucible – five months after its release and four months after its un-release.
In February, Amazon’s ambitious MMO New World received its third delay, and is now expected in August.
Bloomberg has a good report on why Amazon has so far struggled to make a successful video game, despite throwing millions of dollars at it.
Tencent is the world’s largest video game company in terms of revenue, with significant stakes in a number of western video game publishers, such as League of Legends maker Riot, Clash of Clans studio Supercell, and Fortnite developer Epic Games.
It has been the subject of controversy over the years, with its influence questioned. In October 2019, Blizzard came under fire for banning and revoking the prize money of Hong Kong Hearthstone tournament winner Ng Wai Chung, aka Blitzchung, who used his post-match victory interview to issue a statement of support for Hong Kong protestors. In the face of a public backlash, Blizzard eventually partially rescinded the punishment. Tencent has a five per cent stake in Activision Blizzard.