LOTR Boss Talks Games And The Advantage Tolkien Has Over Marvel

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Between Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, and the trilogy that Jackson made out of The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien’s best-known works have already been adapted as films. But as revealed earlier this month, there are more LOTR movies on the way. The first new live-action film, The Hunt For Gollum, will be directed by Andy Serkis, who will also reprise his role as Gollum. With the resurgence of the franchise on the big screen, the LOTR video games are also going to play larger role in the future.

Embracer Freemode CEO Lee Guinchard recently spoke with VentureBeat about the company’s plans for LOTR video games, games, and the site reported, “games are going to be made to fully explore the new universe being created, and games will be considered as hugely important in the Middle-earth entertainment of the future.”

“I think Tolkien has already set the stage for Middle-earth, and all the tales and all the beginnings, the tribulations, the drama,” said Guinchard. “They’re all set up in a fully fleshed-out world. Marvel came from comic books, so there was a lot of work to do to make the lore for the movies. You start to visualize Middle-earth in your own way. When you see the animated films, and some of the Peter Jackson, which wasn’t actually what I imagined, I was still quite happy to. It’s already preset, down on paper in the written word. The interesting thing is how we go and tell the story in the future for these new media like video games and all of this new technology for how people immerse themselves in worlds. That’s where I’m super interested.”

Some of the developers under Guinchard’s purview include Crystal Dynamics, Eidos Montreal, and Warhorse, the developer behind Kingdom Come: Deliverance. Guinchard didn’t say whether any of those teams would tackle LOTR, but he indicated that the company is going to focus on its creators first.

“For this property and how we set it up for the future, we’ve got to acknowledge and support creators first,” said Guinchard. “All I can say through all of this is you have to respect the works. We believe that gaming can be the future, of course. And I think we want to do something amazing and big over time. And really, it’s important to build those relationships in order to really take this thing into the next chapter. Historically, it’s just been so fragmented.”

One of the most recent games, Lord of the Rings: Gollum, fell well-short of expectations in 2023, and also far from the AAA games of the past like Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor and its sequel, Shadow of War. But Guinchard believes that the new focus on creators will keep the video game franchise healthier in the long run.

“Not everything is going to hit it out of the park,” acknowledged Guinchard. “We know that. But we’re really creating an ecosystem and an agile company that invites creators to create things in this world. That’s the plan.”

As part of a reorganization at Embracer, Guinchard will be moving over to a newly spun-off company, Middle-earth Enterprises & Friends, which is just a working title and will likely be changed. Guinchard will remain in charge of the Tolkien video game franchise, which includes upcoming titles Tales of the Shire and Amazon’s new Lord of the Rings MMO. The new company will also have the gaming rights for Tomb Raider, Kingdom Come: Deliverance, Dead Island, Saints Row, and more.