If that sounds familiar, it’s because the company announced this already in 2019 , partnering with China-based developer Leyyou Technologies . Two years later it was announced that the project had been discontinued — largely because Leyou was acquired by Tencent in 2020 .
”It wasn’t 100% clear whether [the rights] went to Tencent,” Amazon Games VP Christoph Hartmann explained to GamesIndustry.biz . “Tencent and we had a conversation. We knew them and I respected them, but we’re two big companies and it would have been better if we didn’t work together. , It’s a 10-year project, so no one knows what’s going to happen. It’s better to just be friends.” In addition, due to licensing restrictions, Tencent was not very enthusiastic about this project
. added Mr.
”It wasn’t very much like, ‘Do what you want, stay true to the book, and just make a great game,'” Hartmann says. “I won’t go into details, but there were certain restrictions, so it would have been very tricky.”
Middle-earth Enterprises, which manages the rights to JRR Tolkien’s work, has since reverted the license back to company control. I told Amazon about it. New talks began, but the two companies “couldn’t come to an agreement — again, partly due to a dispute over a ‘very restrictive license.’ Last summer, Middle-Earth
Enterprises It was acquired by the Embracer Group , which announced last year that it would co-develop the next Tomb Raider with Amazon, and the two companies already had a strong relationship.
”There were a lot of people [who knew], like Randy [Pitchford] from Gearbox, who I worked with [in the past]. I didn’t think it would work, but the phone I thought it might be a good idea to ask about it.It wouldn’t hurt to do it.And they were actually interested.
” I was a little lucky that it was an old colleague of mine, a colleague from the UK in the early days of Take-Two and Rockstar in the ’90s, who helped build trust. ”
Embracer has just under 100 in-house studios, but Hartmann says the group and Middle-earth Enterprise, and Amazon Games Orange County in Irvine, have the best experience in producing large-scale MMOs, with the recent success of New World I persuaded him that he had Talks went ahead and an agreement was reached, and the partnership was announced yesterday.
As we’ve already told you, Hartmann’s ambition is to make it “the biggest MMO in the world”, but the long-running Lord of the Rings MMO already makes that a bit more difficult to achieve. Now run by Standing Stone, The Lord of the Rings Online has been running since 2007 and is still undergoing major expansions, including last year’s Before The Shadow. The game has over a decade ahead of it, but does that affect the possibility of Amazon Games’ own Tolkien title?
”No problem at all,” says Hartmann. “First of all, kudos to you for being around this long. They don’t have a huge, but they have a dedicated fanbase. It feels like a completely different world from where you are later.It would be a bit of an exaggeration to say that it’s like a black-and-white movie turned into color, but I dare to say that.This is a completely different world.
” Actually I think we can coexist, the most likely scenario is… people move on because the other game is an older game, it’s not a bad game, but the industry is It’s always been a long time from their release to ours,” Hartmann
said about expanding the audience for the genre and making MMOs for non-MMO players. ing. If Amazon can achieve this, it could give its own game an edge over LOTRO, which has a very similar structure to World of Warcraft.
It’s worth noting that Amazon doesn’t refer to its own project as an MMORPG, which LOTRO and WoW certainly are. The concept of massively multiplayer games has evolved dramatically since 2007, with titles like Destiny offering first-person shooters an MMO experience. It’s unclear what genre Amazon’s Lord of the Rings will build on, and while the team is currently exploring ideas, it’s clear that audience expectations are changing as well.
”With the rise of social media and the Internet, the emphasis is on immediate rewards,” Hartmann says. “It has to be faster, faster
.” It’s important to let them feel the progress they’re making, and then gradually improve them and basically give them the option to start at a different pace so they don’t get frustrated. And that’s what’s important.”
”It’s also a big problem in many PvP games that it’s hard to get newcomers. Just how many new people will come in?”
Luckily, Amazon Games Orange Country was able to take a lesson from its debut, New World. Perhaps the most obvious is a technical lesson; like many online games, New World was plagued with server issues at launch, but Hartmann said the problem was resolved and the team He said that it helped him to understand the company’s technology better. But the biggest learning, he says, is about the demand for content.
”People are literally consuming content at an unbelievable rate,” he says. “We couldn’t keep up with the development of new content. We initially said, ‘We also need post-launch content.’ I was looking at the timeframe with the content that said it was, but it was used up in just a month.
” We have to assume that there is someone to digest it.”
MMOs are actually pretty cool too, but they didn’t get as much attention as they did a decade ago. That’s why we stepped in there strategically.
Amazon has revealed that the game will revolve around the stories and characters of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, but this itself presents new challenges. Hobbit was published in 1937 and is approaching its first century, but players are likely familiar with Peter Jackson’s films from the past two decades. How can you create your own creative vision and a new Middle-earth that will be familiar to those who have enjoyed previous film adaptations?
”It looks like the studio is already having those discussions,” Hartmann says. “Some of us are die-hard fans of The Lord of the Rings, but we’re already saying ‘you can’t do that,’ ‘Middle-earth (Enterprises) won’t allow it,’ ‘change the story and introduce new characters. You can’t force it and you can’t rewrite the book.'”
”But for me it’s still very important that it’s a game first, and then it’s a reflection of the book. I also tell the team, ‘I get it, but it’s not for everyone to go and point out if that detail is 100% perfect.’ ，Maybe the scenery looks a little different.That’s because we can’t make it happen, or the art person feels that it may look a little different than what people assume in the book.
”I definitely want to give priority to the game and make it a great game. As I said earlier, I want people to play for 10 years, so I want to make sure that the contents of the book are perfected in the game . I can’t help it.If you really think so, read the book.Read it about five more times.In other words, if it’s a game, Games are about play and they have to be playful, so you have to be able to bend the rules a little bit to be a great game.
” He adds that it is also the key to the success of MMOs. We’ve discussed past examples, including the two Star Wars MMOs, the ongoing Star Trek Online, the aforementioned Lord of the Rings Online, and even defunct examples such as Pirates of the Caribbean Online and The Matrix Online. Hartmann says the abundance of source material available from Tolkien’s work is at least an advantage for Amazon over the latter, which is based on just three films.
Despite the durability of titles like LOTRO and WoW, Hartmann believes the MMO genre is really underserved, and that’s why Amazon has seen this in recent years with New World and this title. He said he invested heavily in the genre.
”Battle royale, Fortnite and PUBG have been around for a really long time. People jumped on it, as usual,” he says. “It was hot. But I was like, ‘MMOs were actually pretty cool too, but they’re not getting the attention they were maybe 10 years ago.’ We stepped in.”
As the deal with Tomb Raider shows, Amazon isn’t just focusing on this area. Hartmann adds: “The games industry is opportunistic. When a great opportunity comes along, we just grab it. I’m not a dogmatic, stubborn, ‘I’ll only do this’. Tomb Raider’s If a big game like this comes along and we think we’re the right partners for each other, we just embrace it.How many IPs of that level of quality are out there?”The release date for Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings game has yet to be announced
. ，The team is currently prototyping. Hartmann is determined to create an MMO that will last more than a decade, so he won’t be in any rush to bring anything to market.