To be honest, it’s hard to know how serious we should be taking the announcement that Amazon’s teaming up with Leyou Tech to make a Middle-earth MMO. I mean, back when it was just a sole announcement last year from a Chinese company, it was easy to dismiss. There weren’t any solid details or screenshots or what have you, so it was just an idea.
But now? Now the situation has changed significantly, because attaching Amazon Game Studio as a co-developer adds legitimacy and possibility. Not certainty, mind you; Amazon has yet to actually launch a title, although it has cancelled one or two already. And New World, Amazon’s other MMO, hasn’t really made a lot of waves with its test cycle and “back to the drawing board” move.
Then again, Amazon is spending gobs and gobs of money on that Lord of the Rings prequel TV series, and if that’s a hit, then having a Middle-earth MMO (related to the series or not) is going to reap Amazon some nice benefits. And there is a little nervous chatter that Amazon might well see LOTRO as a threat and look to edge it out of the market to pave the way, even though it wouldn’t be a direct competitor in a lot of regards.
The best scenario for Amazon and perhaps the nightmare one for LOTRO players is one in which the company flexes its muscles to get LOTRO’s license taken away prior to the MMO coming out, and then jumps onto the scene with a cross-platform, cross-media title that may well be more about flash than substance in an attempt to appeal to a more mainstream crowd (your Shadow of Middle-earth demographic).
Obviously, it’s far too early to predict or even rationally speculate, but I cannot ignore this the way I did with Leyou’s announcement in 2018. Maybe it’ll turn out to be nothing. Maybe it’ll peacefully coexist the way DDO and Neverwinter do, and we’ll have two Lord of the Rings MMOs on the market. Maybe it’s going to be a different game entirely than what we think. But Amazon has deeply vested interest in Lord of the Rings right now, and this move cannot be a coincidence.
That makes me wonder. Hm.