Is Middle-earth coming to esports?

Video game super-publisher Embracer Group has acquired all worldwide IP rights to Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit... Fragster | 18. August 2022

Video game super-publisher Embracer Group has acquired all worldwide IP rights to Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit in a $788 million mega deal. It is the first time since 1976 that the LotR rights have changed hands in this way.

Swedish video game and media company Embracer Group is about to acquire Middle-earth Enterprises, which was originally a division of Saul Zaentz Company. The company owns the worldwide rights to JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit franchises of motion pictures, video games, board games, merchandising, theme parks and stage productions.

$788 million for Middle-earth

The blockbuster acquisition came along with several other big scoops for Embracer, including Tripwire Interactive, Tuxedo Labs, and a mysterious yet undisclosed company. The entire takeover deal will cost Embracer up to $788 million. According to the official statement, the deal will give the company “significant growth opportunities within PC, console, mobile and tabletop gaming”, suggesting that gamers across the board might see more Middle-earth-themed releases soon.

Embracer reportedly won’t be making changes to Middle-earth Enterprises’ senior management team but is bringing the company together with Embracer Freemode’s operating group and Embracer’s broader leadership. The aim is to promote opportunities, growth and synergies within the group in order to further build and expand the franchise.

Lord of the Rings in Esports?

The project includes Weta Workshop as the development team and Private Division, a subsidiary of Take Two, as the publisher. Known for the great technical work on Peter Jackson’s trilogy, Weta Workshop knows the Tolkien universe well. Since 2014 there has also been a department dedicated specifically to interactive development, involving some of the best talent from across the company. 

Private Division has something to boast too — its latest games include The Outer Worlds by Obsidian, but the company is also working on OlliOlli World and on the physical Playstation edition of the beautiful Hades.

The official press release that appeared on Private Division’s website currently tells us few details about the project Weta Workshop is working on, apart from the usual phrases that speak of enthusiasm for the new adventure together and a lot of joy.

Michael Worosz, Chief Strategy Officer, Take-Two Interactive and Head of Private Division, commented that “no company is better equipped than the Weta Workshop team to create a new and distinctive gaming experience in Middle-earth.” According to the words of Amie Wolken, Head of Interactive at Weta Workshop, the company’s employees are fans themselves and can’t wait for players to explore Middle-earth in a way they’ve never seen before.

In the coming years, maybe we can look forward to seeing Middle-earth even enter the esports business at some point. In what form such a title could be designed competitively, one can only fantasize.

Header: The Lord of the Rings/ New Line Cinema