In case you missed it, Amazon Game Studios actually announced last year that it would co-develop and publish a new Lord of the Rings MMO alongside Leyou Technologies Holdings Limited and Middle-earth Enterprises. Well, this year, Tencent acquired Leyou, and as part of a bunch of legal documents released for inspection, some interesting information about the upcoming MMO has seen the light of day, including just when it might release.
There are a whole bunch of different documents officially uploaded online, but we're specifically talking about the "Project Austin Co-Development and Co-Operation Agreement" that includes an entire section about licensor milestones. The short version is this: tentatively, when this was drawn up in June 2019, a closed beta on PC was set for September 2022 with an open beta in January 2023. Console launches were expected within 12 months of the open beta launch, which means the new MMO would officially launch in 2023.
Now, keep in mind, these production timelines and milestones can and do shift regularly -- and that was before COVID-19. There's no guarantee that development is still on track for these dates. But even if they are not, it seems unlikely that it would arrive even sooner that that, so it's 2023 or later at best.
"We’re committed to bringing customers games of the highest quality, both with our own original IP as well as beloved cultural pillars like The Lord of the Rings," said Christoph Hartmann, VP, Amazon Game Studios, back when the game was first announced last year. "Tolkien’s Middle-earth is one of the richest fictional worlds in history, and it gives our team of experienced MMO developers – from the same studio developing New World – tremendous opportunity to play and create. We have a strong leadership team in place to helm this new project, and we’re actively growing our team to help build this incredible experience."
"Bringing Middle-earth to life necessitates having the very best partners, and Amazon’s customer obsession, technology, and talented teams make it the ideal choice for a co-developer and publisher," said Alex Xu, CEO of Leyou Technologies Holdings, at the same time. "We believe our combined resources and expertise will result in a beautiful and compelling game that customers will love and play for years to come."
As of now, the new Lord of the Rings MMO does not have a release date or even an official name. If the documents are accurate, it would appear that the release is set for somewhere in 2023. You can check out all of our previous coverage of the Lord of the Rings franchise right here.0comments
What do you think about what we have heard of the Lord of the Rings MMO so far? Are you excited to see whatever those folks are cooking up? Let us know in the comments, or hit me up directly over on Twitter at @rollinbishop to talk about all things gaming!