Swedish conglomerate Embracer Group bought the rights to everything The Lord of the Rings, including the rights to future games. In a press release, the company-buying company announced that it acquired Middle-earth Enterprises. From now on, the movie rights, videogame licenses, merchandise, names, quotes, and anything else that has to do with the iconic fantasy franchise belongs to them. What does that mean for The Lord of the Rings videogames?
Hit and miss track record
The former owner of the rights to Tolkien’s epic universe writes: “We at the Zaentz Company have had the honor over the past half century of stewarding the Tolkien rights so that Lord of the Rings and Hobbit fans worldwide could enjoy award winning epic films, challenging video games, first rate theatre and merchandise of every variety.”
Just by the wording of that statement, it’s clear the company loved the source material. But even a company like that apparently misses their shot (at the weak spot in a Uruk’s armor, to stay in-universe) from time to time. Over the past decades we saw a bunch of truly horrendous, exploitative The Lord of the Rings games.
Those games were mostly confined to the mobile gaming market and browsers.
On the other hand, some of my favorite games of all time take place in the LotR universe. Take the The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth franchise for example. RTS masterpieces. Think of Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor, and what about a second open world orc-killing galore, Shadow of War? Both innovative, badass.
And lets not forget the two best movie tie-ins ever produced: The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers and The Lord Of The Rings: Return Of The King.
Upcoming The Lord of the Rings games
So where does that leave us for the future of The Lord of the Rings games? As of writing, there are a couple of interesting upcoming titles. Ignoring the kinda bad looking Heroes of Middle-earth mobile game, there’s a new game in development at WETA. We also got a first look at a survival crafting game revolving around Dwarves and an adventure stealth title about Gollum.
All those titles were already in production before Embracer Group came along though. To be fair, Embracer owns a bunch of video games companies, including THQ Nordic, Saber Interactive, Plaion, and Gearbox, all of which own dozens of studios combined. So there is talent there.
It’ll be a few years before it’s clear whether the conglomerate likes its po-ta-toes like Sam does, or serves them to us raw and wriggling.