A new ‘Lord of the Rings’ video game is in development to take you back to Middle-earth

Ian McKellen
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ByTebany Yune

Amazon is proving that the iconic Lord of the Rings can still draw people back into its fantasy-mired embrace for another epic adventure. And soon, they'll be heading back to Middle-earth in more ways than one. The company's video game division, Amazon Game Studios, has recently announced that they are leading the development of a Massive Multiplayer Online (MMO) Lord of the Rings game set in Middle-earth for PCs and consoles.

According to Polygon, this new game is a separate project that's unrelated to Amazon's upcoming Lord of the Rings prequel TV series. However, the setting remains similar; co-developers Athlon Games described the game in a statement last year as one that will take place "during the years leading to the events of The Lord of the Rings."

Not only does this mean the game won't cover the events made famous by Peter Jackson's trilogy, it also won't be related to the movies at all. IGN noted a part of the recent announcement that said Middle-earth will be as "portrayed in The Lord of the Rings literary trilogy," suggesting the setting will be based more on the actual books than the movies. This means there may be more elements from the books that are depicted in side-stories, poetry, and songs that were cut from the movies.

Although this game was announced last year by Athlon Games, this recent statement has established that Amazon Game Studios will be leading the overall development.

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Overall, information about the game has been scarce. There are no screenshots or release dates available to get a sneak peek at the new game. However, Middle-earth Enterprises, the company that manages all Lord of the Rings content, has previously informed fans that the new game will be a free-to-play MMO that focuses on exploring the vast regions of Middle-earth while offering fans "a unique opportunity for fellowship."

This is not the first time Middle-earth has become an MMO. The Lord of the Rings Online (LOTRO) is another free-to-play MMO game that released for computers back in 2007 and is still available today. That game takes place during the events of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, with player characters leaving The Shire with Frodo's group. However, LOTRO was created by different developers, and there is no indication that Amazon's project is related to it at all.

Amazon has been banking on Tolkien's legendary novels for a while now, putting money into both the new video game and the upcoming Middle-earth series. And that might not be the last of it, either. CNET reported that there's a possibility of a spin-off series if the first one does well. Last year, The Hollywood Reporter also mentioned the cost Amazon paid to acquire the rights to make the series, a cool $250 million spent in a bidding war against Netflix. Amazon is locked into creating the series for at least five seasons for their streaming video services, Amazon Prime Video.

Thankfully, you probably won't need Amazon Prime to play the upcoming game. But calling it free-to-play means there's a high probability of a lot of microtransactions and in-game purchases to make up for the cost. More details will hopefully be revealed in the future, as fans eagerly await a release date.