LOTRO Legendarium: Am I excited at all for Amazon’s Lord of the Rings MMO?


With all of the recent hullabaloo around New World, I’ve noticed several mentions of what this may portend for Amazon’s Lord of the Rings MMO project. And I went, “Oh yeah, that’s still a thing!” because I had totally forgotten. I don’t feel bad about this, as the studio’s not really been talking about this MMO since a little over a year ago.

Now with New World’s future looking a mite bit shaky (but not doomed!), Lost Ark losing mindshare, and Blue Protocol’s triumphant entry onto the scene cast into limbo, Amazon is looking less like an upcoming titan in the genre and more like a kid who went to the buffet and came back with a plate of way too much food that he can’t possibly handle.

But assuming that Amazon and Embracer continue to work on this MMO and manage to bring it to market, we’ll have to deal with this in some fashion. And while it may be far too early to speculate on a game’s future or feature set when we know virtually nothing about it, now may be the perfect time to evaluate personal feelings and stances about this game.

After all, an Amazon MMO is poised to come into a market where there’s already a long-running and well-established Lord of the Rings title operating. That’s instant competition, and Amazon definitely knows it. I think the studio’s approach, if this launch ever happens, will be to try to steamroll Lord of the Rings Online with a game that’s slicker, newer, and boasting a hefty budget.

I suspect it’ll be Neverwinter vs. Dungeons and Dragons Online all over again. One’s a more arcade-style, loose interpretation of the source material, while the other one is a more dense and faithful adaptation. Different crowds, different playstyles, different appeals.

After seeing how Amazon prized flash over substance with Rings of Power, I’m not convinced that we’re going to see a faithful adaptation that hews to the books that Tolkien wrote. Worst case scenario is that we get yet another generic fantasy game with a Middle-earth overlay that’s trying to appeal to the mainstream.

I’m a very loyal person by nature, so it’s easy for me to get defensive of LOTRO and become biased against Amazon’s game before I ever get a glimpse of it. So I’m trying to be aware of that bias and be willing to give this upcoming game a genuine shot. After all, if peace can be made between the titles, we could end up with two Lord of the Rings MMOs in this space, and that kind of competition could be an “iron sharpens iron” type situation.

But I cannot deny that I have fears that Amazon’s game will hurt LOTRO, starting with the concern that licensing issues may result in a Star Wars Galaxies/SWTOR situation all over again.

Even if that doesn’t happen, an exodus from LOTRO to a fresh title is certain to happen, at least in the beginning, and LOTRO would be financially hurt from such a move. I don’t think that SSG and its parent company has the resources or muscle to push back with a counter marketing campaign.

Honestly, I don’t think we’ll ever see Amazon’s LOTR project come to fruition. I’m not saying that the studio’s not invested in the IP or making this happen, it’s just that the odds are somewhat against it becoming a reality. It’s a project that faltered once before, don’t forget, and it’s not as if Amazon’s a gaming juggernaut these days. And even though Rings of Power is heading into a second season, it doesn’t seem like there’s a lot of enthusiasm from the very crowd that such an MMO would appeal to.

Let’s also remember that it’s been over a year since the studio’s openly talked about the MMO, apart from mentions in corporate press releases, which — even in deep early development — is not necessarily a good sign. You want to build up a community, feed the hype train, and remain visible in an ever-shifting landscape. If Amazon is quiet for the next three years and then pops out of nowhere to say, “Oh hey guys, we’re going to launch in a month!” it’ll be a Day One disaster.

So overall, my feelings toward this project are (a) wary, (b) somewhat pessimistic, (c) open to being impressed, and (d) patient. It’s not something that I want or need right now, so whatever Amazon’s doing over there, it’s not going to affect my day-to-day unless it becomes far more of a reality than it is right now.

Every two weeks, the LOTRO Legendarium goes on an adventure (horrid things, those) through the wondrous, terrifying, inspiring, and, well, legendary online world of Middle-earth. Justin has been playing LOTRO since its launch in 2007! If you have a topic for the column, send it to him at justin@massivelyop.com.
Previous articleEverQuest II’s Anashti Sul progression server is live with its 2006 throwback vibes
Next articleLost Ark’s Summer Heat is live, daring players to confront Echidna in the latest endgame raid

No posts to display

Subscribe to:
oldest most liked
Inline Feedback
View all comments