Lord of the Rings Online 'is not going away' just because Amazon's making a Lord of the Rings MMO: 'It is beloved, it is sixteen, it is evergreen'

Lord of the Rings Online
(Image credit: Standing Stone Games)

Amazon Games is taking another crack at a Lord of the Rings MMO, it revealed on Monday. The news that it will focus on the period covered by the Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit puts it in direct competition with the established Lord of the Rings Online MMO, however, and developer Standing Stone Games has been trying to reassure its community that it's not in trouble. 

Lord of the Rings Online has been kicking around for 16 years and continues to be updated, even as so many of its former MMO peers have fallen by the wayside. But the news of a rival with extremely deep pockets has left some players wondering what the future holds for the classic free-to-play MMO. 

Spotted by Gamespot, Standing Stone has responded to its community with a brief forum post. "We wanted to give everyone in the community an update and assure you all that LOTRO is not going away," it reads. "Like you, we, and our partners at Middle-earth Enterprises are huge fans of LOTRO. It is beloved, it is sixteen, it is evergreen. LOTRO is like the long-lived Ents, Elves and Dwarves; and we mere mortals, are the stewards of LOTRO and its community. Standing Stone has every intention of growing and supporting this community. The road goes ever on…"  

While Standing Stone's statement focuses on its MMO and doesn't sling any mud, Amazon Games VP Christoph Hartmann takes some swipes—albeit diplomatic ones—at its rival in a Gamesindustry.biz interview. "I think they actually can co-exist. Even the most likely scenario is… for people just to move over, because the other one is an old game. It's not a bad game, but the industry moves on at some point, and it's a long time from their release to ours."

Hartmann also claims that the two MMOs will be "worlds apart" and that, while LOTRO's fanbase is "dedicated", it's "not huge". 

While Amazon is being a bit more aggressive here, Hartmann is probably right. If you're a Lord of the Rings fan and MMO player, why wouldn't you check out the new Lord of the Rings MMO? And Amazon has already shown how hungry people are for new MMOs, attracting millions of players to New World at launch, which didn't have a major fantasy licence backing it up. 

I don't think that necessarily means LOTRO is going to vanish. The MMOs that have managed to stick around despite the genre's decline—games like EVE Online, Star Wars: The Old Republic and Star Trek Online—have shown themselves to be extremely resilient and adaptable, and cater to players who treat these spaces like a second home. Veteran players have invested a lot into these games, and even if they do hop on over to the hot new MMO, that doesn't mean they'll be leaving their old stomping grounds for good. 

We also don't know when Amazon's MMO will actually appear, or if it will even make it to launch. Amazon's enjoyed some major successes, but has also experienced lots of failures and cancellations. The future, then, is a bit murky.

Fraser Brown
Online Editor

Fraser is the UK online editor and has actually met The Internet in person. With over a decade of experience, he's been around the block a few times, serving as a freelancer, news editor and prolific reviewer. Strategy games have been a 30-year-long obsession, from tiny RTSs to sprawling political sims, and he never turns down the chance to rave about Total War or Crusader Kings. He's also been known to set up shop in the latest MMO and likes to wind down with an endlessly deep, systemic RPG. These days, when he's not editing, he can usually be found writing features that are 1,000 words too long or talking about his dog.