If you were asked to name some of the most enduring and iconic media franchises of all time, Lord of the Rings is one at the very top of the list; Tolkien’s Middle-Earth saga is not only a touchstone in high fantasy, but in all popular culture as well, and that’s something that should be better reflected in its video game counterparts, according to Matthew Karch.
Karch, the new interim COO of Embracer Group, the Swedish video game and media holding company who owns such popular gaming IPs as Tomb Raider, Deep Rock Galactic, and yes, Lord of the Rings believes that the IP should be ‘one of the biggest gaming franchises in the world.’
Karch shared the notion during a press conference with investors, where he also touched upon the company’s restructuring program; the restructuring, will include layoffs, studio shut-downs and game cancellations, but also a “leaner, stronger and a more focused, self-sufficient company,” according to CEO Lars Wing in an open letter to the company’s 17,000-count staff.
“I think sometimes growth comes by cuts,” Karch said in the conference with investors. “You refocus your efforts, and you do a better analysis of the talent that you have. Sometimes teams get put on products because the team has availability. In a structure that is not quite consolidated, there aren’t necessarily the resources to put that team on the best product.”
Karch added, “I have a high degree of confidence that this entire process is going to easily translate into better product selection that’s more profitable and that gives us a greater opportunity for growth in the future and that helps to leverage the IP that we own within our organization.”
Karch then specifically mentioned Lord of the Rings, and the fact that Lord of the Rings needs to be ‘one of the biggest gaming franchises in the world.’
“We own Lord of the Rings, and we know we need to be exploiting Lord of the Rings in a very significant fashion and turning that into one of the biggest gaming franchises in the world. And that’s obviously something we’re going to be doing,” Karch said.
Embracer Group acquired the intellectual property licensing rights to the Lord of the Rings franchise back in August of 2022. The rights were previously held by The Saul Zaentz Company, which licensed the rights to New Line Cinema for the highly-acclaimed, Peter Jackson-helmed Lord of the Rings films.
While Embracer didn’t specify which aspects or characters of Lord of the Rings will be more aptly utilized for future Lord of the Rings video games, when they first acquired the intellectual property licensing rights, the company issued a press release stating, “Other opportunities include exploring additional movies based on iconic characters such as Gandalf, Aragorn, Gollum, Galadriel, Eowyn and other characters from the literary works of J.R.R. Tolkien, and continue to provide new opportunities for fans to explore this fictive world through merchandising and other experiences.”
Though the recently released Lord of the Rings: Gollum is one of the lowest-rated games of the year (per Metacritic), we’re willing to give Embracer Group a mulligan. The company will be releasing a Tolkien-based MMORPG along with Amazon Games sometime in the future, as well as a survival crafting game called Return to Moria this Fall.
Which characters or narratives from Lord of the Rings would you most like to see explored in video game form? Let us know in the comments.