Despite (arguably) being the inspiration for the modern fantasy and " sword and sorcery" genres, The Lord of the Rings franchise remained an unknown commodity to the video game world for many decades. Although a highly successful adventure game based on The Hobbit ( The Hobbit) was released on home computers in 1982, titles based on The Lord of the Rings would be very rare and sporadic for another twenty years.
The franchise had its true awakening along side the release of Peter Jackson's film interpretations. Publisher EA capitalized on its movie licensing with two very successful hack and slash games based on the film trilogy; The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, released on PS2, Xbox, Gamecube, and Gameboy Advance. The Tolkien Estate, looking to capitalize on the success of the films, released its own game, based solely upon the intellectual properties of the books and published by Universal Interactive; The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. The game was more adventure oriented and story-driven, but was not as well-received as the more action packed EA Games efforts. Still, a sequel was planned based on The Two Towers, but was ultimately canceled during the final stages of development. Vivendi Universal would eventually collaborate with Sierra to create a mildly successful adventure/platforming game based on The Hobbit, which was released in 2003.
EA Games also attempted to take the LOTR license in new directions following the success of its hack and slash games. They released a role-playing game, Lord of the Rings: The Third Age, in 2004 on all major consoles. The game was not as well-received as their previous efforts, and overall the cliched and somewhat archaic RPG elements were seen as a step-backwards for the franchise. Another RPG was planned following The Third Age, tentatively named The Lord of the Rings: The White Council, but said game has mired in development hell and it is uncertain if it will be released or canceled.
EA rebounded with a pair of well received real-time strategy games based on the franchise, The Battle for Middle Earth in 2004, and The Battle for Middle Earth II in 2006. Although the first installment had to contend with a similar game by the Tolkien Estate, The War of the Ring, it eventually proved far superior and by the release of the second installment, EA was given permission by the Tolkien Estate to use the intellectual properties from the books, providing a much richer experience that allowed EA to include characters and units not featured in the movie.
The next video game that was made for The Lord of the Rings franchise was a game being developed by Pandemic, named Lord of the Rings Conquest, which is similar in design and game-play to Pandemic's former Star Wars: Battlefront series. The game released January 13, 2009.
However, the license for the Lord of the Rings was obtained by Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment and they announced that they were working on a family-oriented third person action game named Aragorn's Quest. The Lord of the Rings: Aragorn's Quest was released September 14, 2010.
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