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News & Features Discussion  » [Column] Lord of the Rings Online: The Curious Case of Lord of the Rings Online

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  SBFord

Associate Editor - News Manager

Joined: 6/28/10
Posts: 14229

 
OP  9/26/13 10:44:36 PM#1

Lord of the Rings Online is one of the more well-known MMOs, even given its advancing age. The latest expansion has come out but is time running out on Turbine's license? In today's Tourist, we take a look at LOTRO and implications for the future. Read on before heading to the comments to join the discussion.

The lack of updates on this expansion was enough to make you wonder if this was coming out at all. Turbine seems to specialize in silence these days, so you might be forgiven for not knowing that LotRO license to the Tolkien-verse expires in 2014. When they announced this deal in 2008, they noted that there were “additional options to extend” until 2017 but there has been very little word on what that might mean. What’s more, The Middle Earth Enterprises   might not be inclined to agree to such an extension following a year of legal battles with parent-company, Warner Brothers. 

Read more of Chris Coke's The Tourist: The Curious Case of Lord of the Rings Online.

Associate Editor: MMORPG.com
Follow me on Twitter: @MMORPGMom

  Drakephire

Advanced Member

Joined: 4/02/13
Posts: 416

9/27/13 3:32:29 PM#2
If Turbine looses the license, I honestly don't see any other company taking up the MMO license.
  BMBender

Novice Member

Joined: 9/14/07
Posts: 559

9/27/13 3:40:54 PM#3

this is one of those topics that crops up from time to time.  My supposition supported by no actual data is that there are two different questions here.

WB securing the license again does not automatically = Turbine gets to continue LOTRO

1. WB has been securing rights across various media for various franchises for future projects

2. LOTRO continuing is more a factor of how it looks on WB's bottom line than how the licensing negotiations go.

 

I suspect WB will secure the license(or try too) regardless of it's plans for LOTRO, those are separate issues I think.

 

EDIT oh and it's not the Tolkien estate that owns the IP btw and are currently owned byMiddle Earth Enterprises(formerly Tolkien Enterprises), a company controlled by Saul Zenits

 

Christopher Tolkein (Tolkein Estate) has been going round and round vis vis MEE and WB about various digital rights so far unsuccessfully.

  JeroKane

Elite Member

Joined: 2/21/06
Posts: 5352

9/27/13 3:45:51 PM#4

The last two expansions were meh and didn´t sell all too well. This expansion I definitely pass on.

Like the person abocve me already said. WB will most likely secure the License, but if WB goes for the bottom line (which they will) I don´t see LOTRO continueing much longer to be honest.

Like the first person already said. I am in the same boat. So many People have left, because they have been burned by how Turbine has misshandled this game the last couple years.

It´s really sad and would love to play it again. But there is just none in my kin left playing.

  Drakephire

Advanced Member

Joined: 4/02/13
Posts: 416

9/27/13 3:50:38 PM#5
Originally posted by BMBender

this is one of those topics that crops up from time to time.  My supposition supported by no actual data is that there are two different questions here.

WB securing the license again does not automatically = Turbine gets to continue LOTRO

1. WB has been securing rights across various media for various franchises for future projects

2. LOTRO continuing is more a factor of how it looks on WB's bottom line than how the licensing negotiations go.

WB has no other MMO developer than Turbine...securing MMO rights and then sitting on them would be a waste of money.

WB may opt out of the license to focus Turbine on other WB properties...Harry Potter for example.

 

WB's bottom line is directly tied to licensing negotiations. If theTolkien Enterprises wants more money for the license, then that affects WBs bottom line. The current legal battle is in fact over this very issue. However, it is with the Tolkien Estate which is different than Tolkien Enterprises. The Tolkien Estate is suing over what they claim is Turbine and WB illegal use of the license via the cash shop. Who knows if TE has legal grounds or not...that's why it's been tied up for over a year.  But yeah, LOTRO licensing is very much tied into WBs bottom line.

 

 

Edit: To distinguish between Tolkien Enterprises and Tolkien Estate.

  BMBender

Novice Member

Joined: 9/14/07
Posts: 559

9/27/13 3:56:39 PM#6
Originally posted by Drakephire
Originally posted by BMBender

this is one of those topics that crops up from time to time.  My supposition supported by no actual data is that there are two different questions here.

WB securing the license again does not automatically = Turbine gets to continue LOTRO

1. WB has been securing rights across various media for various franchises for future projects

2. LOTRO continuing is more a factor of how it looks on WB's bottom line than how the licensing negotiations go.

WB has no other MMO developer than Turbine...securing MMO rights and then sitting on them would be a waste of money.

WB may opt out of the license to focus Turbine on other WB properties...Harry Potter for example.

 

WB's bottom line is directly tied to licensing negotiations. If theTolkien Estate wants more money for the license, then that affects WBs bottom line. The current legal battle is in fact over this very issue. The Tolkien Estate is suing over what they claim is Turbine and WB illegal use of the license via the cash shop. Who knows if TE has legal grounds or not...that's why it's been tied up for over a year.  But yeah, LOTRO licensing is very much tied into WBs bottom line.

who said anything about another developer, the digital rights also include(arguably) those gambling machines and other digital media like say movies, merchandise ect.  And currently TE does not own the IP MEE does.

 

 

EDIT this mess along with the War hammer SWTOR face plants does reinforce my drive to never jump into another 3rd party IP mmo  at launch in the future.   I'll happily wait 6mo to see if it's even worth the bother.(that includes you too ESO)

  Mithrundir

Hard Core Member

Joined: 8/15/06
Posts: 337

9/27/13 4:03:58 PM#7

The game was taken in the wrong direction even before f2p, at least imo. Playing the same pvp map for 5 years was enough for me. They drove away all of their playerbase besides gear grinding through raids and instances. Next, they stated the other avenues of the game weren't popular therefore were not a priority or anything to work on all-together.

 

That's what happens what you neglect so many features of an mmo, Lotr is an amazing IP but Lotro sealed it's own fate with the worst expansion I've ever seen with the Gap of Rohan. There literally wasn't enough content to level the 10 levels the that were added to the cap, horrendous.

Dozens of MMO's, RTS's, FPS's, etc.

  Po_gg

Elite Member

Joined: 5/12/10
Posts: 2235

9/27/13 4:13:37 PM#8

"The Shire feels enough like The Shire so that some players never leave." - indeed :) (and it's a nice rainbow shot, MD is a great place)

 

The licensing issue popped up quite frequently during this year, and to be honest the silence about it is a bit alarming... but I guess we'll cross that bridge when we get there. I try to avoid wasting too much time speculating on it until there's no hard data.

Not to mention, before that we'll need to get over a much closer obstacle, the Helm's Deep revamp...

  Drakephire

Advanced Member

Joined: 4/02/13
Posts: 416

9/27/13 4:13:49 PM#9
Originally posted by BMBender
Originally posted by Drakephire
Originally posted by BMBender

this is one of those topics that crops up from time to time.  My supposition supported by no actual data is that there are two different questions here.

WB securing the license again does not automatically = Turbine gets to continue LOTRO

1. WB has been securing rights across various media for various franchises for future projects

2. LOTRO continuing is more a factor of how it looks on WB's bottom line than how the licensing negotiations go.

WB has no other MMO developer than Turbine...securing MMO rights and then sitting on them would be a waste of money.

WB may opt out of the license to focus Turbine on other WB properties...Harry Potter for example.

 

WB's bottom line is directly tied to licensing negotiations. If theTolkien Estate wants more money for the license, then that affects WBs bottom line. The current legal battle is in fact over this very issue. The Tolkien Estate is suing over what they claim is Turbine and WB illegal use of the license via the cash shop. Who knows if TE has legal grounds or not...that's why it's been tied up for over a year.  But yeah, LOTRO licensing is very much tied into WBs bottom line.

who said anything about another developer, the digital rights also include(arguably) those gambling machines and other digital media like say movies.

Well, you're confused on licensing.  This article deals with Turbine's license that expires in 2014. Tolkien Enterprises has divided up the license to various media entities that you can see here: http://www.tolkien-ent.com/current_licencees_pop.html

This has nothing to do with the movie license which is controlled by Tolkien Enterprises. Tolkien Estate is an entirely different entity. And I actually made a mistake in my post. I should have said Tolkien Enterprises.  As a matter of fact, Chris's article is in error because Tolkien Estate has no legal say over the continued use of the license because Tolkien Enterprises (owned by Saul Zantz) owns the movie and gaming rights.  Tolkien Estate is essentially suing Tolkien Enterprises here.

  BMBender

Novice Member

Joined: 9/14/07
Posts: 559

9/27/13 4:14:37 PM#10
Originally posted by Drakephire
Originally posted by BMBender
Originally posted by Drakephire
Originally posted by BMBender

this is one of those topics that crops up from time to time.  My supposition supported by no actual data is that there are two different questions here.

WB securing the license again does not automatically = Turbine gets to continue LOTRO

1. WB has been securing rights across various media for various franchises for future projects

2. LOTRO continuing is more a factor of how it looks on WB's bottom line than how the licensing negotiations go.

WB has no other MMO developer than Turbine...securing MMO rights and then sitting on them would be a waste of money.

WB may opt out of the license to focus Turbine on other WB properties...Harry Potter for example.

 

WB's bottom line is directly tied to licensing negotiations. If theTolkien Estate wants more money for the license, then that affects WBs bottom line. The current legal battle is in fact over this very issue. The Tolkien Estate is suing over what they claim is Turbine and WB illegal use of the license via the cash shop. Who knows if TE has legal grounds or not...that's why it's been tied up for over a year.  But yeah, LOTRO licensing is very much tied into WBs bottom line.

who said anything about another developer, the digital rights also include(arguably) those gambling machines and other digital media like say movies.

Well, you're confused on licensing.  This article deals with Turbine's license that expires in 2014. Tolkien Enterprises has divided up the license to various media entities that you can see here: http://www.tolkien-ent.com/current_licencees_pop.html

This has nothing to do with the movie license which is controlled by Tolkien Enterprises. Tolkien Estate is an entirely different entity. And I actually made a mistake in my post. I should have said Tolkien Enterprises.  As a matter of fact, Chris's article is in error because Tolkien Estate has no legal say over the continued use of the license because Tolkien Enterprises (owned by Saul Zantz) owns the movie and gaming rights.  Tolkien Estate is essentially suing Tolkien Enterprises here.

yup btw the company changed it's name it's not Tolkien Enterprises any more it's Middle Earth enterprises. and the reason I think WB will try to secure it as part and parcel of the entire digital and movie rights is they tend to prefer blanket rights, just look at Marvel.

 

But currently WB only has to secure licensing with MEE. until and unless lil Chris actually wins something in court TEstate is a side show.

  Reizla

Elite Member

Joined: 12/09/08
Posts: 3071

MMORPGs are no longer about the mass multi-user anymore *sadly*

9/27/13 4:19:11 PM#11

"Now, it’s entirely possible that Turbine may be under a gag order and can’t comment. I want to be fair. But look at their messaging, people. It’s not just about the license. It’s not just about the expansion or the cash shop. It’s not even just about the increasing drought of communication about the game. It’s about all four of them, and when combined they create a very curious case for LotRO indeed. Taken in context, it’s hard to come away feeling positive about the state of the game.."

We've seen this extreme silence last year and this year with Warhammer online and that MOBA thing they made. The MOBA was killed early this year and only recently we've heard that the license is not to be extended.

With Turbine/WB being so silent about Helmsdeep, the expiring license and other stuff you might wonder if LotRo's license is about to end without extension. I hope for the loyal player base that the license will be extended and that they have at least till Mordor to play in Middle-Earth...

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  Po_gg

Elite Member

Joined: 5/12/10
Posts: 2235

9/27/13 4:26:04 PM#12
Originally posted by Reizla

We've seen this extreme silence last year and this year with Warhammer online and that MOBA thing they made. The MOBA was killed early this year and only recently we've heard that the license is not to be extended.

I'm not happy with that parallel, they've just made a moba as well...  so basically when they kill off the guardians of Middle-earth, we're doomed :)

Edit: "they've just made" -> more precisely "just released on pc"

  BMBender

Novice Member

Joined: 9/14/07
Posts: 559

9/27/13 4:32:26 PM#13
Originally posted by BMBender
Originally posted by Drakephire
Originally posted by BMBender
Originally posted by Drakephire
Originally posted by BMBender

this is one of those topics that crops up from time to time.  My supposition supported by no actual data is that there are two different questions here.

WB securing the license again does not automatically = Turbine gets to continue LOTRO

1. WB has been securing rights across various media for various franchises for future projects

2. LOTRO continuing is more a factor of how it looks on WB's bottom line than how the licensing negotiations go.

WB has no other MMO developer than Turbine...securing MMO rights and then sitting on them would be a waste of money.

WB may opt out of the license to focus Turbine on other WB properties...Harry Potter for example.

 

WB's bottom line is directly tied to licensing negotiations. If theTolkien Estate wants more money for the license, then that affects WBs bottom line. The current legal battle is in fact over this very issue. The Tolkien Estate is suing over what they claim is Turbine and WB illegal use of the license via the cash shop. Who knows if TE has legal grounds or not...that's why it's been tied up for over a year.  But yeah, LOTRO licensing is very much tied into WBs bottom line.

who said anything about another developer, the digital rights also include(arguably) those gambling machines and other digital media like say movies.

Well, you're confused on licensing.  This article deals with Turbine's license that expires in 2014. Tolkien Enterprises has divided up the license to various media entities that you can see here: http://www.tolkien-ent.com/current_licencees_pop.html

This has nothing to do with the movie license which is controlled by Tolkien Enterprises. Tolkien Estate is an entirely different entity. And I actually made a mistake in my post. I should have said Tolkien Enterprises.  As a matter of fact, Chris's article is in error because Tolkien Estate has no legal say over the continued use of the license because Tolkien Enterprises (owned by Saul Zantz) owns the movie and gaming rights.  Tolkien Estate is essentially suing Tolkien Enterprises here.

yup btw the company changed it's name it's not Tolkien Enterprises any more it's Middle Earth enterprises. and the reason I think WB will try to secure it as part and parcel of the entire digital and movie rights is they tend to prefer blanket rights, just look at Marvel.

 

But currently WB only has to secure licensing with MEE. until and unless lil Chris actually wins something in court TEstate is a side show.

And the reason I think WB will try to secure it as part and parcel of the entire digital and movie rights is they tend to prefer blanket rights, just look at Marvel.  It's one reason I've always suspected they bailed out Turbine in the first place. I doubt it was because they saw LOTRO as an investment in and of itself; but so they could be in a position to secure those rights.  Remember at the crash Turbine was 2steps away from being sold off in chunks from being over leveraged. the hedge funder (I forgot the name) they were most deep into took over the company1st as CFO then CEO if I remember correctly; and eventually brokered the WB deal.

  IceAge

Novice Member

Joined: 8/23/05
Posts: 1023

9/27/13 4:46:44 PM#14

Well , ( not to upset any LoTRO fans ) , this is well deserved. 

LOTR games should be in better hands , where turbine has failed pretty hard at making the online version, a big success. 

When I first heard of LoTRO, I was SO excited and when I got my beta invite I SO happy....until I logged in. I was very disappointed that they didn't made a game by it's own, other then a copy/paste of WoW .

Anyway , I hope turbine loses his licence and that other company will take it and make a real , real ...REAL MMO , because LOTR fans deserve it. Imagine what and how many things can be made within a MMO game based on the lore.

One could dream .. 

Reporter: What's behind Blizzard success, and how do you make your gamers happy?
Blizzard Boss: Making gamers happy is not my concern, making money.. yes!

  Lithuanian

Novice Member

Joined: 12/17/06
Posts: 178

9/27/13 4:53:02 PM#15

Yet another "doomed, we are doomed, evil is upon us" thread. Lotro is doomed, licence is doomed, everything will fall and everyone from Free Peoples will be left behind closed door.

Because company won't reveal what could be a classified information. Classified means - secret, not to be known to everyone untill time comes.

Yes, licence may expire. Yes, Tolkien copyrighters may try to do something. But I am very confident Turbine/WB knows what they are doing. An ID Software, producers of famous "Blood" and "Blood II" are making yet another Middle-Earth MMORPG and do not seem to cease production. Turbine launches new expansion and is not showing any signs of shutting.

There is no need to worry. We will play Lotro in 2015 as well as in 2025.

P.S. graphic engine may mean very little. Istaria has a really old graphic engine - and yet community is not afraid of it. If the game is good, having trillions of colors means nothing. And if game is lame, no effects will save it.

http://www.mmoblogg.wordpress.com

  Boneserino

Elite Member

Joined: 12/08/07
Posts: 1093

9/27/13 5:08:32 PM#16
Originally posted by IceAge

Well , ( not to upset any LoTRO fans ) , this is well deserved. 

LOTR games should be in better hands , where turbine has failed pretty hard at making the online version, a big success. 

When I first heard of LoTRO, I was SO excited and when I got my beta invite I SO happy....until I logged in. I was very disappointed that they didn't made a game by it's own, other then a copy/paste of WoW .

Anyway , I hope turbine loses his licence and that other company will take it and make a real , real ...REAL MMO , because LOTR fans deserve it. Imagine what and how many things can be made within a MMO game based on the lore.

One could dream .. 

Yea, you can dream.  You could dream about just about any old MMO and how it could be turned into a "Real" MMO.

I will just keep playing the game.

FFA Nonconsentual Full Loot PvP ...You know you want it!!

  Sovrath

Elite Member

Joined: 1/06/05
Posts: 17631

9/27/13 5:16:21 PM#17

I'm sort of on the fence. This is one of the few games I subscribe to but I'm not really happy with what they did with the license.

Everything they do now seems half-assed. Heck, I had to quit the game because they had me running around doing the must inane things just to further the main story/get faction.

I quit when I was asked to carry a basket of apples across the town only to then be asked to carry the empty basked back. Then I was asked to kill frogs when I finally got away from that town and I unsubscribed.

Some gaming friends convinced me to come back and I am patiently grinding out my hytbold faction for better gear. Doing dailies which I despise.

Quite frankly I wouldn't mind another company having a crack at the IP but why would they? The Lord of the Rings movies are over and by the time they got any sort of game out the Hobbit would have long since been done with.

It's almost like the Matrix mmo which seemed to come a bit too late.

  IceAge

Novice Member

Joined: 8/23/05
Posts: 1023

9/27/13 5:22:45 PM#18
Originally posted by Boneserino
Originally posted by IceAge

Well , ( not to upset any LoTRO fans ) , this is well deserved. 

LOTR games should be in better hands , where turbine has failed pretty hard at making the online version, a big success. 

When I first heard of LoTRO, I was SO excited and when I got my beta invite I SO happy....until I logged in. I was very disappointed that they didn't made a game by it's own, other then a copy/paste of WoW .

Anyway , I hope turbine loses his licence and that other company will take it and make a real , real ...REAL MMO , because LOTR fans deserve it. Imagine what and how many things can be made within a MMO game based on the lore.

One could dream .. 

Yea, you can dream.  You could dream about just about any old MMO and how it could be turned into a "Real" MMO.

I will just keep playing the game.

Well, I did said that I don't want to upset any LoTRO  fans. That's is my opinon, but I am glad that you enjoy the game. I really am. 

But for me, Turbine has ruined it.

Reporter: What's behind Blizzard success, and how do you make your gamers happy?
Blizzard Boss: Making gamers happy is not my concern, making money.. yes!

  Boneserino

Elite Member

Joined: 12/08/07
Posts: 1093

9/27/13 5:26:32 PM#19

I will give you that Sovrath, it is 90% fetch and kill quests.   But honestly what MMO isn't. 

The detail in the world, and somewhat the lore, are the things that I enjoy in the game.  Its a great place for a care bear to kick back and enjoy some quality time.  Not for everyone but nothing is, in this business.

They should have made two games I think.  The Shire game for us bears and the Mordor game for the hardcore guys.  Maybe that would have kept everyone happy! 

FFA Nonconsentual Full Loot PvP ...You know you want it!!

  Boneserino

Elite Member

Joined: 12/08/07
Posts: 1093

9/27/13 5:32:10 PM#20
Originally posted by IceAge
Originally posted by Boneserino
Originally posted by IceAge

Well , ( not to upset any LoTRO fans ) , this is well deserved. 

LOTR games should be in better hands , where turbine has failed pretty hard at making the online version, a big success. 

When I first heard of LoTRO, I was SO excited and when I got my beta invite I SO happy....until I logged in. I was very disappointed that they didn't made a game by it's own, other then a copy/paste of WoW .

Anyway , I hope turbine loses his licence and that other company will take it and make a real , real ...REAL MMO , because LOTR fans deserve it. Imagine what and how many things can be made within a MMO game based on the lore.

One could dream .. 

Yea, you can dream.  You could dream about just about any old MMO and how it could be turned into a "Real" MMO.

I will just keep playing the game.

Well, I did said that I don't want to upset any LoTRO  fans. That's is my opinon, but I am glad that you enjoy the game. I really am. 

But for me, Turbine has ruined it.

I will try not to be upset Ice. ;)

But you can't say that they ruined it.  In fact they did a damn nice job.  They just didn't make the game that you wanted to play and I am sorry for that.   It probably always going to be the case in games with expensive 3rd party IP's too.  When large amounts of  money is involved you can be sure they will not take great risks with gameplay, and for certain they will want to appeal to majority of players.   And we all know what that means these days.

FFA Nonconsentual Full Loot PvP ...You know you want it!!

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