One does not simply walk into developing a new Lord of the Rings game. But that’s exactly what Athlon Games, the team behind Warframe and Gears of War 4, is doing.
Athlon, the owner of Digital Extremes and Splash Damage, has signed a deal with Middle-earth Enterprises (the license holders of JRR Tolkien’s fantasy world), to develop a new online game full of orcs, hobbits and elves.
“It’s a singular opportunity to work closely with Middle-earth Enterprises to create a completely new experience for fans of the landmark fantasy work of JRR Tolkien, and we are excited about the resurgence of interest in The Lord of the Rings IP,” said Dave Miller, president, Athlon Games.
The game is set to be a prequel to the well-known stories of Frodo and Bilbo Baggins, instead taking place in the deep history of Middle-earth, conveniently avoiding any canonical issues.
Exactly what sort of game it’ll be, or what platforms it will appear on, remains a mystery. But given Athlon Games’ pedigree with free-to-play online titles like Warframe, it wouldn’t be surprising if that’s the path taken here.
Fans of the Lord of the Rings series have, surprisingly, had it quite good when it comes to games that spin off the franchise. Though its sequel Shadow of War proved controversial, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor was great fun. The Lord of the Rings Online, a traditional MMO game, is still going strong, and a number of beat-em-ups and strategy games have also impressed over the years.
Beyond that, the resurgence of interest in the IP will continue with a new Amazon Prime TV show, again based on the franchise’s unexplored past.