Almost exactly four years ago, we first learned about the existence of a new Lord of the Rings MMORPG, backed by Hong Kong-based Leyou Tech, one of the companies behind Warframe. A year later, Amazon Games got involved with the game in a “special collaboration.” Even folks who liked the Lord of the Rings MMO we already have were excited about the potential for a new one, though we knew it was years away. And then Amazon and Leyou dashed all our hopes in 2021, canceling the game outright.
But until recently, we didn’t have a whole lot of clarity on why it all came crashing down, just a cryptic note from Amazon that it was “unable to secure terms to proceed with this title.”
As of today – and no doubt inspired by the new Rings of Power – we know a little bit more. Gamespot has an interview with Amazon Games’ Christoph Hartmann about the collapse of the title, and it sounds like it had a lot to do with Tencent, which bought Leyou after Leyou and Amazon teamed up.
“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,” Hartmann says. “The question was, sure, maybe 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. […] 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.”
Instead, Amazon doubled down on New World and Lost Ark. “I want to keep on investing in that,” he says. “I know, it’s not going to be Lord of the Rings, but we have our own fantasy; why not keep building on that.”
Amazon is also continuing work on John Smedley’s MMO; we still don’t know what it is, and Smed apparently wouldn’t tell Gamespot either, apart from the fact that the game was the most complicated and unusual of the multiple pitches Smed’s team made to Amazon. Previous rumors and hiring posts have suggested it’s some sort of sci-fi multiplayer shooter. Either way, this is the first confirmation we’ve had in a long while that it’s even still in production.