Lord of the Rings licence reverts to Warner Bros.
Over the years since the first movie appeared, the publishing giant has released two official movie tie-ins (Sierra handled The Fellowship of the Ring), the Battle For Middle Earth PC games (which we’re big fans of), LOTR: Tactics for the PSP and the recent Conquest title from Pandemic.
That’s a lot of sales right there, and we’re assuming EA’s coffers have been brimming over with gold coins generated from the lucrative licence since 2001. So why relinquish such a fat cash cow?
Well, like every business contract, there are usually terms and conditions that we the public are never privy to; until they come into effect of course.
Variety reports one such clause has now been enacted and EA’s licence to publish Lord of the Rings games expired at the end of 2008 with the rights reverting back to parent company Warner Bros.
What does this mean for future Middle Earth based games? We’ve held our own secret White Council here at PS3 Attitude and have bandied together a rag tag group to predict what will happen next?
Interestingly, Variety claims a source has revealed that, unlike EA’s modus operandi, Warner Bros. will likely keep development of future LOTR games in-house. With two new films coming from 2011 onwards, this suggests that WB have just enough time to begin development of The Hobbit game in order to launch at the same time as Jackson’s/del Toro’s new movie. What also is intriguing is that Warner Bros. is a major equity holder in Turbine, the developer of Lord of the Rings Online so console and MMO offerings are now all tied up under one house. One licence to rule them all … etc. etc.
What other games could be coming our way apart from more online RPGs and new movie tie-ins? Well, as Variety has also mentioned in an update to their original post, a developer from Traveller’s Tales has apparently worked on a pitch to Peter Jackson himself regarding a Lord of the Rings Lego game. As big fans of the Indiana Jones and Batman iterations of the Lego sub-genre, we’re hoping the Kiwi director liked what he saw.
Finally, apart from looking into the future, there is some evidence to suggest that this licence reversal has impacted recent games. You might remember our review of The Lord of the Rings: Conquest recently where we admitted having some fun with the game but criticised some of the rushed elements and lost opportunities the experience proffered. It now appears that the reason for a certain lack of polish in the game was due to time constraints and a publishing deadline casting its shadow over Pandemic like Sauron himself*. It’s a pity as the game has a lot of good things going for it. It just appears time wasn’t one of them.
*A two week reprieve was apparently granted to allow EA to publish in January.
Source: Via Joystiq