December 6, 2022

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Embracer Acquires Lord of the Rings: Will We See a Return to Video Game Adaptations of Films and TV Shows?

Swedish gaming giant Embracer Group re-entered the legacy world of J.R.R. Tolkien. After they produced The Lord of the Rings board game 20 years ago, Embracer now moved and acquired Middle-earth Enterprises, part of The Saul Zaentz Company. With it comes global movies, video games, merchandising and other product rights, including literary works.

It was not the only move Embracer made recently. Aside from the rights to the worlds of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, their spending spree of around $790 million included companies like Tuxedo Labs and Tripwire Interactive, known for Chivalry development. The Swedish giant acquired three high-level developers from Square-Enix earlier this year.

Lord of the Rings content is all around

Peter Jackson’s movie trilogies revolving around Tolkien’s work got critically acclaimed and drew a massive audience in the unique and probably the most impressive fantasy world ever created. As a result, board games, theme parks, theater shows, and countless pieces of merchandise with The Lord of the Rings or Hobbit iconography are still hot products.

Middle-earth in iGaming

Recent expansions of online casinos can make this deal potentially more lucrative because the game developers in iGaming use the LOTR theme in their titles. There are already many slot games with Tolkien’s imaginary, sprawling world as a backstory. The hot niche currently is games with a live dealer in iGaming, and we could perhaps see new titles under 32Red live casino games with characters from Middle-earth appearing in future.

What’s coming up soon

The deal to acquire Middle-earth Enterprises came ahead of Amazon’s Rings of Power premiere. Streaming providers didn’t save costs on the production of the epic series set for September 2nd. Aside from the TV drama for Amazon Prime, Tolkien’s legacy is in the works for an animated movie in Warner Bros production. How those productions will contribute to the Embracer is not yet answered.

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However, we can anticipate new video games because of all the moves of acquiring new development talent from the Swedish company. As for now, Electronic Art is producing a mobile game revolving around the Middle-earth world. The Lord of the Rings: Gollum is another game that will come next year, and Weta Workshop and Private Division are working on a new Lord of the Rings game that will come out sometime in 2024.

Best LOTR games so far

There are a few great Lord of the Ring games, but none reached the highest AAA ranks and status. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor and Middle-earth. Shadow of War had the most significant production. While these are entertaining games with great visuals and artwork, both lack more depth and polishing.

Along with the movies in the early 2000s, PlayStation 2 saw The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King as the best out of three games Electronic Art published. It had great visuals and gameplay for the era.

Tolkien’s universe came to the Lego games as well. Both Hobbit and Lord of the Rings games follow the usual Lego pattern reliving the story with quirky Lego-like characters and entertaining gameplay. The Lord of the Rings also had a strategy RTS game in Battle for Middle-earth, which received solid reviews. In addition, the two sequels had excellent production and visuals.

Embracer will have plenty to work on if they will create original gaming content for Tolkien’s world. So far, LOTR games have come in various genres, and it’s hard to determine which path could new video games take. If they take a page from the Chivalry book, we could see action slashing games since they acquired the development studio. Strategy games are not a hot topic in recent years, but RPG titles still are. Whatever comes next, Embracer has the rights to the whole entertainment playing field.

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