Warner Bros. Buys Lord of the Rings Online

Gandalf in Lord of the Rings OnlineGandalf in Lord of the Rings OnlineWarner Bros. Interactive Entertainment (WBIE) has consumed the last independent publisher of Lord of the Rings games.  Turbine Inc.'s Lord of the Rings online was swallowed by WBIE with a full purchase--all Turbine rights, licenses, and games are now owned by WBIE.

I was always glad there was a non-LOTR film-based game out there, and--though I didn't play it much beyond a month or two of it's original release--I appreciate a more-or-less fresh take on LOTR outside of the visual definition of the films.

Here's an excerpt from Gamespot's article all about the acquisition:

Terms of today's deal were not disclosed, other than to say that it covered all LOTRO games including the well-reviewed original, which launched in 2007. That was followed by the 2008 release of its first expansion, the Mines of Moria, and the second, 2009's Siege of Mirkwood. During that time, the MMORPG was published by Midway Games, which went bankrupt last year. The majority of the company's assets, including the coveted Mortal Kombat license, were also bought by WBIE for approximately $49 million.

With the purchase of Turbine, WBIE has now locked down all gaming licenses associated with the Lord of the Rings IP. In 2009, it reclaimed rights for non-MMORPG Lord of the Rings games based both on the books and director Peter Jackson's film trilogy from Electronic Arts. The three films were distributed by New Line Cinema, a subsidiary of movie studio Warner Bros. Pictures, which is also owned by WBIE parent Time Warner.

The publishing label currently has two LOTR console games in development: The family-friendly Lord of the Rings: Aragorn's Quest and the action-role-playing game Lord of the Rings: War in the North. That roster may expand, as Turbine executives have openly expressed plans to develop a console MMORPG, most likely with the PlayStation 3 as a lead platform.

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