After eight years of Electronic Arts holding the game rights to the Lord of the Rings films, the license has transferred to Warner Bros., which owns licensee New Line Cinema.
In 2007, publisher EA renewed its original licensing agreement through 2008, but apparently Warner elected to bring the property home after that period expired. The news was reported in an online Variety blog post, citing unnamed sources.
The reversion likely includes the rights to adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkien's original literary work, held by Vivendi Games until they too were obtained by Electronic Arts in 2005.
Pandemic's Lord of the Rings: Conquest, apparently the last Lord of the Rings game to be released by EA, made it onto the top 10 sales charts, but seemed to have little lasting power -- and took a critical beating.
With the main New Line film trilogy having competed more than five years ago, the franchise isn't at its top potential. However, New Line is producing a film version of Rings prequel The Hobbit, due in 2012 -- sure to receive multiple game adaptations.
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment has been making a concerted effort over the past several years to expand its game development and publishing efforts, and now fully owns Monolith Productions, TT Games (a.k.a. Traveller's Tales), and Snowblind Studios.
Also in recent years, Electronic Arts has signaled its intention to increase the proportion of its portfolio that is based on original intellectual property, as opposed to licensed material.