Electronic Arts has announced that it has been granted the rights to develop games based on J.R.R. Tolkien's book version of the classic The Lord of the Rings series, thus uniting the rights to the series under one licensor to rule them all.
As the company explains in its official release, since 2001, EA has developed games based exclusively on New Line's Academy Award winning theatrical productions of The Lord of the Rings, as depicted by Peter Jackson. In fact, Vivendi Universal Games had separately licensed the right to use the Tolkein books from the Saul Zaentz Company, a situation which led to competing Lord Of The Rings games being released at around the time the first movie debuted.
However, Vivendi's adaptations, which included both versions of The Lord Of The Rings and a game adaptation of The Hobbit, were not very well-received either critically or commercially. Nonetheless, now that the movies have been completed, EA has acquired the book license, likely to help ensure that nobody else can release LOTR-based titles, and, according to the company, "to introduce players to depths of the fiction never before explored in an EA game."
EA also officially announced two new games in The Lord of the Rings series; The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II, a PC real-time strategy title, and turn-based strategy game The Lord of the Rings Tactics for PSP, particularly touting the fact that "fans will be able to step into a world that looks like the films, but experience characters, environments and battles that have been inspired by the books."
"Now that we are expanding our Lord of the Rings universe to encompass Tolkien's books, we'll be able to combine the visual impact of the films with those complex stories," said Steve Gray, Executive Producer of The Lord of the Rings Tactics at EA. "The RPG genre, in particular, is a great medium for story telling. We are delving into unexplored depths of Tolkien's works to deliver new, compelling and immersive experiences. The Lord of the Rings Tactics gives RPG fans a first look at how we will do this."