Lord of the Rings Online

After playing hundreds of hours of Final Fantasy XIV on PS5, I really don’t think I could ever go back to playing MMOs on PC. I know that sounds like blasphemy to the hardcore PC crowd, but I’m really a console gamer at heart. I did dabble with both World of Warcraft and Amazon’s New World in 2021, but it’s just so much work to set up my gaming rig for a good, long session.

Yes, a huge part of this is that, while I do have a gaming laptop, my living room is set up around my consoles, and my laptop is something of an afterthought. But even so, the convenience of just grabbing a controller and plopping down on the futon is hard to give up.

For a long, long time, I’ve been saying that if Lord of the Rings Online ever makes its way to consoles, I would jump back in. LotRO is still my most-played MMO, and it might even be my most-played video game ever. I put literally thousands of hours into this game back when it was at its peak. I even wrote a glowing review of the Riders of Rohan expansion, which launched back in 2012 (a whole decade ago!)

Lord of the Rings Online

I’ve jumped back in a few times since then, but the game just doesn’t hold my attention anymore. (I do still have a lifetime premium subscription, which means that I’m not roadblocked from any of the game’s premium features and I always have a fat stack of in-game currency waiting for me.) A huge part of this, of course, is that it’s a 15-year-old MMO that hasn’t aged that well. But the bigger issue — for me, at least — is that I’ve been completely spoiled by console MMOs. I really don’t see myself going back to the tried-and-true PC option.

In 2021, there was an investor report by EG7 Global (the company that now owns Daybreak, which publishes Lord of the Rings Online) that mentioned some big ambitions for the future of LotRO. Not only would the game get a UX and graphical overhaul, but it would finally be available on consoles. This makes some amount of sense, because Amazon’s Lord of the Rings-based show is coming out this fall, and anyone who owns any IPs related to Tolkien’s fantasy masterpiece is trying to find ways to capitalize on the show’s release. So my longstanding desire could be coming to pass later this year.

However, there’s a huge part of me that is taking this with a gigantic pile of salt. The reason for my skepticism is that there are a few degrees of separation between EG7 and Standing Stone Games, the company that currently works on LotRO. And the folks at Standing Stone have been really cagey about this news.

Lord of the Rings Online

For instance, the December, 2021, letter from the producer didn’t even acknowledge this announcement. And neither did the April, 2022, one. With something as major as a console version announcement, which is public now, it seems weird that it wouldn’t have been mentioned at all in these letters.

The lone source of all of this news is actually one image, which allegedly comes from the EG7 investor briefing:

Investors presentation

I enlarged the “Medium-term” section of the presentation and marked the actual section that mentions the console version:

LOTRO on consoles

The source of this image is this Twitter post.

If this is actually a slide from an investor report (rather than a spoof or a leaked version of a document that was later altered before the presentation), then it does look like a console version was announced. Kind of. The wording here is important:

Along with Amazon’s new streaming series (reported to be the biggest budget series ever) based on the Lord of the Rings IP, Daybreak is investing in a major revamp to upgrade the visuals, modernize the experience and release on consoles

That’s… incredibly vague, at best. While on the surface, it does seem like confirmation of the existence of a console version, it’s actually nothing more than a commitment to look into it. Essentially, EG7 is saying that they’re investing some money into the possibility of a console version. They can easily report back this fall and say “We looked into it, and the development team told us it wasn’t feasible.” That would pretty much get them off the hook without getting sued for misleading investors.

So I’m waiting for an announcement — or even an acknowledgement of — such a project from Standing Stone Games, the folks who are actually, you know, working on the game. To my knowledge, they’ve not publicly spoken about this project at all. This is starting to feel like something that was mentioned briefly as a throwaway comment in an investor briefing rather than a true announcement or commitment. Standing Stone seems like they’re continuing on PC development as planned without worrying about a console version at all. And on that front, they’re completely crushing it right now.

Now, it’s possible that a console version would end up outsourced to a different studio, but even then, Standing Stone would at least be able to talk about it. And they’re not talking about it.

Lord of the Rings Online

Even the LotRO-playing community seems pretty skeptical of the “news.” And sure, these are just random folks who don’t have any inside information who are typing in game forums, so what do they know? But I think the tone of their comments is at least an indicator — albeit a small one — that it’s maybe not a safe bet to take this “announcement” as anything more than blustering by executives who are far removed from the actual development process. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who remembers the Cyberpunk 2077 fiasco.

So all of this leads me to believe that a console version of Lord of the Rings Online is still a pipe dream. I would love it if it were a real thing, because LotRO is always in the back of my mind. I have a lot of affection for this digital world, and I would love to revisit it with a controller in my hand and a comfy futon under my butt. Unfortunately, I just don’t think that’s a realistic expectation.

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