Tag Archives: Warner Brothers Home Entertainment

What is in the Future for LOTRO?

Lord of the Rings Online is in the midst of its six year anniversary celebrations.

Six Years of Middle-earth

Six Years of Middle-earth

Six years ago Vanguard was sputtering along, with Brad McQuaid speaking up about all the problems as I was speculating on how they might get out of their mess. (And two of those came to pass.)  I was past level 50 in EverQuest II with a fae, the new race that came along with the Echoes of Faydwer expansion. I was also playing with our brand new Wii.  And Potshot and I were becoming immersed in Lord of the Rings Online for the first time, an MMO that was getting some buzz.

Yahoo Headlines

Yahoo Headlines

The timing was about right for us, as the instance group was on something of a hiatus as Earl moved from one coast to another and set up shop in the big city.  The four of us who jumped in started what would become a recurring pattern of play in Middle-earth.

At some point, somebody would be unable to play for an extended time and the remaining four of us would roll up fresh characters on a new server.  Generally classes and such had changed enough that we really needed the fresh start to build up characters.  We would get up to about level 30 or so in the Lone Lands, and then taper off as the fifth person in the group joined back up, leaving us out of sync in Middle-earth.

And so our adventures would end, never having reached Rivendell as we headed back to Azeroth or Telara.

And even those occasional wanderings in LOTRO appear to be at an end for our group, as it has been vetoed for further play by one of the group members.  So far only LOTRO and EverQuest II are on the explicit veto list.

The group only ever made it into the end phase of the Lone Lands, while I only ever made it part way into Moria.  And that may be the furthest any of us ever get.

And while part of that is because of our past experience, another aspect is the future of LOTRO itself.

A little over five years ago there was the announcement that Turbine and Tolkien Enterprises had signed an agreement to extend the licensing for the game out to 2014.  That seemed way out in the future… but now it is next year.  And what will happen then?  There was an option on the agreement to extend the deal to 2017, but I imagine that both parties have veto power on that.  Things have changed since 2008.

Since that agreement was signed, Turbine was been acquired and folded into Warner Brothers Home Entertainment.

And I am not sure how that will affect things.

On the one hand, Warner has other license agreements with Tolkien Enterprises which have lead to some lucrative and fun games, such as LEGO Lord of the Rings.

On the other hand, the Tolkien estate has also felt the need to sue Warner for misuse of the Tolkien IP.  And since Warner are no doubt be the ones doing the negotiating for LOTRO now, you have to wonder if that bad blood will color things.

It seems likely that the game is good until 2017, but all of that still makes you wonder.  Especially when Turbine suddenly decided to pull Asheron’s Call 2 out of cold storage late last year.  Is that a sign that they are worried, that they have nothing else viable in the works, or that they just have plenty of free time on their hands?

How much longer do you think we have for LOTRO?

It is like Star Wars Galaxies or The Matrix Online in that, as a licensed IP, when it ceases to be profitable… or of interest to the licensing entity… it will go away, never to be seen again.

Turbine and Warner Brothers

And while eyeballing the Massively post about the new EQII subscription plan offering, I also saw the headline about Turbine being purchased by Warner Brothers Home Entertainment.

Thus the “largest privately-held online gaming studio in North America” joins a conglomerate.

As noted elsewhere, the number of independent MMO studios just went down by one.

And while I have no idea what impact this will have on their games, Asheron’s Call, Dungeons & Dragons Online, and Lord of the Rings Online, it did put one thing in mind.

Warner also happens to own TT Games, the parent company of Traveler’s Tales, the studio which makes all of the LEGO games, like LEGO Star Wars and LEGO Indiana Jones.

So now we have a parent company that owns rights to make a Lord of the Rings game and the very popular LEGO game franchise.

Over two years ago I thought up five LEGO games I would like to see.  One of them was LEGO Harry Potter, and we’re getting that one pretty soon.

Another was LEGO Lord of the Rings.

Now, I know that we’re talking about two different studios and that the licensing as it stands won’t allow such a game.

But I’m just thinking that this moved the ball ever so slightly in the right direction.

I can dream, right?