There’s a new Lord of the Rings game coming. Publisher Athlon Games has entered into a “long-term licensing agreement” with Middle-earth Enterprises, the company which manages the rights to J.R.R. Tolkein’s works, starting with an online game that will serve as a prequel to The Lord of the Rings, showcasing a whole host of new additions to the world.
Athlon is working with an unnamed “partner developer” on the game, which according to publisher will be set “at a time long before the events of The Lord of the Rings, exploring lands, people and creatures never seen before by fans of the Tolkien universe.”
The upcoming Amazon TV series is also set to be a prequel, and though it’s not explicitly mentioned in the press release, it’s likely there’ll be room for crossover between the show and the game.
If you’re wondering what the deal is with Athlon Games, the outfit is a subsidiary of Leyou Tech Holding, established last year. Leyou, in turn, is the parent company that owns Warframe dev Digital Extremes as well as Splash Damage – you may also remember Leyou as the Chinese chicken company which diversified into videogames.
Athlon president Dave Miller was formerly VP of global brand marketing at Warner Bros. Interactive, and says the company’s goal is creating “creating AAA cooperative console and PC experiences that gamers will want to play for years to come.” The studio also lists free-to-play development as one of its core focuses.
That focus on free-to-play cooperative development may suggest something similar to Warframe, and it would make sense for Leyou to build a company for such projects given the success of Digital Extremes’ shooter over the past year in particular. It’s also possible that this could be a proper follow-up to the now decade-old Lord of the Rings Online, but this press release and Athlon’s website notably avoids any mention of MMO development, despite its focus on online titles.