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LOTRO license extension betting pool - will we be around?


What's the state of the license extension?  

69 members have voted

  1. 1. Your guess?

    • The license has been extended but The Sap is not allowed to say so
      2
    • The license has been extended but The Sap likes playing with us and enjoys the controversy
      6
    • No signature is on the extension at this point but it is actually all agreed on and it is fair to say it *will* be extended
      8
    • No signature is on the extension, it's just that the intention is so clear that they go forward telling us LOTRO will be around 2014+ in good (WB's view) faith
      4
    • Sapience knows nothing, they don't tell him anything except to "shut up these people" and he picked the words to do so
      10
    • Almost fraud. They want to extend the license but negotiations are ongoing. They let The Sap say it's a done deal anyway because that's how business works
      14
    • Outright fraud. The extension is in jeopardy or already rejected and they want players to continue paying more money until they have to admit it
      15
    • Something else entirely is going on, e.g. WB buying the IP or something crazy. Explain below
      3
    • The signature is on the extension but WB holds back on saying so for a planned high-impact announcement for some product (probably not Turbine related)
      2
    • Negotiations ongoing, however they can always invoke the old option if they break down (and the option is bulletproof in the voter's opinion)
      5


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Come the date the license runs out, if the court case has not been decided or an out of court settlement reached, Lotro should close down. Perhaps temporarily, perhaps permanently.

Not necessarily, that depends on the wording of the license. The original press release said "[Turbine] has reached an agreement with Tolkien Enterprises to extend it's license to develop Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games".

Assuming the license says the same, "to develop", that means the game would have to revert to maintenance mode, but could run older content indefinitely.

But if the license says "to operate", then the game would have to shut down entirely until a deal is worked out (or the copyright expires). Though if the game is forced to shut down, even temporarily, I expect the staff would be shuffled off to other projects and the game would be permanently dead.

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One thing to remember: If Turbine/WB have been paying the licensing fees, Middle-Earth Enterprises won't complain too much. As long as Middle-Earth Enterprises and Turbine/WB feel they can keep pa

Not necessarily, that depends on the wording of the license. The original press release said "[Turbine] has reached an agreement with Tolkien Enterprises to extend it's license to develop Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games".

Assuming the license says the same, "to develop", that means the game would have to revert to maintenance mode, but could run older content indefinitely.

But if the license says "to operate", then the game would have to shut down entirely until a deal is worked out (or the copyright expires). Though if the game is forced to shut down, even temporarily, I expect the staff would be shuffled off to other projects and the game would be permanently dead.

The heart of the litigation is whether a license was within Middle Earth Enterprises' (formerly Tolkien Enterprises) power to grant in the first place. So what it says may not actually matter, it's the fact it exists in the first place which is the issue. That said, there may be a loophole depending on whether the restriction was solely on new licenses being granted or whether it also included extending existing licenses. If Turbine were sure of the extension til 2017, then them not even quietly confirming it would be surprising.

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<p>Exactly. There are restrictions on the granting of licenses for online games, that is made clear by the counterclaim for damages in not being able to issue licenses because of the court case, so if they can't make the Hobbit online, they'll not be able to do a new one for Lotro. Until the court case is decided, Lotro is in limbo which is why Turbine are so sensitive about it because stating the simple truth will hurt them. Come the date the license runs out, if the court case has not been decided or an out of court settlement reached, Lotro should close down. Perhaps temporarily, perhaps permanently.</p>edit: considering that the origins of this case are that licenses for slot machines were being sold and the Tolkien Estate took great exception to that, make your own judgement on what putting one into the game was trying to say. Not sure myself whether it's just very black humour or an FU.

Can you elaborate a bit on this? Are there public court documents on this?

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Can you elaborate a bit on this? Are there public court documents on this?

Tolkien estates is seeking ruling on two issues that they claim fall outside the original agreement.

1.) merchandizing only relates to tangible physical property, which excludes digital material IE: computer games.

2.) the use of merchandizing extending to gambling (additionally the damages to the IP)

Tolkien estates file suit:

Saul Zaentz counter file:

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I don't think that they will fail to renew the license. WB seem to like laying claim to all things LotR-based, so I doubt that they will relinquish licenses without an almighty struggle. WB will throw their weight around and LOTRO's license will extend by proxy. If, however, anything does happen and this license doesn't renew, you can bet your bottom dollar that it'll be for reasons out of the hands of WB and Turbine, most likely connected to the Tolkien Estate lawsuit.

There may be legal provisos in place that prevent Tolkien Enterprises from granting further new licenses until the case is resolved. It would make sense that their ability to do so is suspended if what they are actually entitled to license is in dispute.

If Tolkien Enterprises are unable to grant new licenses, their hands may be tied regarding extensions to expiring ones like Turbine's for LOTRO. That could be the Tolkien Estate's legal tactic - block Tolkien Enterprises from granting new licenses or extensions to old ones, tie up the matter in long-term legal wranglings, wait for all the active licenses to lapse then claim abandonment.

I'd like to think that's what will happen. It would be very satisfying were it to unfold in that way.

But I'm reasonably certain that the rights will be extended.

as best i can tell, Tolkien Estates are given review of any licensing agreements made by Saul Zaentz (according to the counter claim)

if they are aware of the provisions for extension &/or alteration... this indeed may be a blocking maneuver.

there are some curious things in the counter, for certain.

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So LOTRO 2 is being secretly developed maybe?? Something smells bad here. The fact Sapience is so touchy about the subject really does remind me of how it was just before CM lost their licence.

This was always a possibility, but there are a couple factors counting against that theory.

We know that a lot of personnel on LOTRO right now has very little experience, in general and with LOTRO in particular. However, we could track a couple of them to outside companies and to that Infinite Crisis trainwreck, so it's not a situation where all the experienced developers have been put on a secret project.

Also, I am not aware of a better graphics engine that they could jump on and I doubt that they are in a shape to roll one from scratch (which might not keep them from trying, admittedly).

If there's a new LOTR game it's more likely to have some RPG and some online elements that look "MMORPG enough" to executives but is in reality dumb garbage.

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So LOTRO 2 is being secretly developed maybe?? Something smells bad here. The fact Sapience is so touchy about the subject really does remind me of how it was just before CM lost their licence.

Would be hard to imagine one being developed just yet. The assumption surely would have been that Lotro continues til at least 2017. The court case would prevent any new online game being licensed so why would any company take the risk of investing in development until it's decided? If Tolkien Estates wins the case, they could prevent it ever being released.

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Also, I am not aware of a better graphics engine that they could jump on and I doubt that they are in a shape to roll one from scratch (which might not keep them from trying, admittedly).

Huh? Of course many graphic engines that are more superior and modern are ones that are either unlikely to be licensed out and / or were never used in any full-fledged MMOPRG / big-scale multiplayer online game.

Even if we scratch those out, there is still : Cryengine 3 and Unreal Engine 3 available to everyone with enough money apparently and both were used in MMOPRGs already. Granted UE3 is getting very old, but still superior to what they have atm but CE3 is still modern. UE4 is in late stage of developent and next CE is also being worked on.

Then WB is definately a company that could afford to develop their own in-house engine and I think at some point they will, if they will want to still agressively expand in gaming.

This was always a possibility, but there are a couple factors counting against that theory.

We know that a lot of personnel on LOTRO right now has very little experience, in general and with LOTRO in particular. However, we could track a couple of them to outside companies and to that Infinite Crisis trainwreck, so it's not a situation where all the experienced developers have been put on a secret project.

If there's a new LOTR game it's more likely to have some RPG and some online elements that look "MMORPG enough" to executives but is in reality dumb garbage.

I would not discard a possiblity that WB is working on Lotro 2, althrough I agree that it would be NOT what most of people here would expect and want from Lotro 2. Whenever Lotro 2 would be Full MMORPG or "online game with few MMORPG gimmicks" - I think it would not have any chance to be decent game. Simply because of industry-wide general trends and WB own trends and approach towards online games and business models.

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This was always a possibility, but there are a couple factors counting against that theory.

We know that a lot of personnel on LOTRO right now has very little experience, in general and with LOTRO in particular. However, we could track a couple of them to outside companies and to that Infinite Crisis trainwreck, so it's not a situation where all the experienced developers have been put on a secret project...

I could just imagine Sap thinking aha I promised developing LotRO but I never said it wouldn't be a sequel ....

both of you assume Warner is sourcing this directly through Turbine. their development umbrella is rather large. Turbine isn't necessarily key.

Would be hard to imagine one being developed just yet. The assumption surely would have been that Lotro continues til at least 2017. The court case would prevent any new online game being licensed so why would any company take the risk of investing in development until it's decided? If Tolkien Estates wins the case, they could prevent it ever being released.

as of right now, Warner only appears to be testing concept through Monolith/WB Seattle.

as per the lawsuit, Tolkien Estates would have to have all claims decided in their favor to block any future licenses related to digital gaming.

no clue how this will play out, as this is all still pretty new territory. Tolkien Estates have the literary & publishing rights. are the digital games extensions of the movies? or are they infringing on the literary works? so much nuance here, & not a clue how the plaintiffs intend to proceed.

Huh? Of course many graphic engines that are more superior and modern are ones that are either unlikely to be licensed out and / or were never used in any full-fledged MMOPRG / big-scale multiplayer online game.

Even if we scratch those out, there is still : Cryengine 3 and Unreal Engine 3 available to everyone with enough money apparently and both were used in MMOPRGs already. Granted UE3 is getting very old, but still superior to what they have atm but CE3 is still modern. UE4 is in late stage of developent and next CE is also being worked on.

Then WB is definately a company that could afford to develop their own in-house engine and I think at some point they will, if they will want to still agressively expand in gaming.

I would not discard a possiblity that WB is working on Lotro 2, althrough I agree that it would be NOT what most of people here would expect and want from Lotro 2. Whenever Lotro 2 would be Full MMORPG or "online game with few MMORPG gimmicks" - I think it would not have any chance to be decent game. Simply because of industry-wide general trends and WB own trends and approach towards online games and business models.

they could develop their own engine, it would make sense if they intend to continue down this path.

however they could also partner & get access to an existing license that way.

but there are indeed other better options available.

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Point 7 regarding tangible property.... LOTRO has at all times been ToC'd to hell and back, ask any fanboi, that you do not OWN the game, characters, store items, or anything anything anything, and that Turbine/WB can take it away at any time... so nowhere near tangible.

I'd love to see the actual contract but from what I'm reading in the back and forth (gotta read paraghraph in Tolkien Estate suit, and "reply" in countersuit)....... the countersuit was (figuratively) written by Sapience as if replying to a forums' thread. Fuckin' hell.

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According to what I know now about Helm's Deep (and no, I'm not in the beta, I'm not breaking any NDA, I only used Google and my brain, as small as it may be), I don't think LOTRO will make it to Minas Tirith. And definitely not to Mordor.

"Life Support" is what comes to my mind.

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I can see WB's laywers in court.

"You offered games that can be downloaded from your site without purchasing physical goods?"

"No your honor. Pando media booster ensures that the player do not download from our site but from each other".

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Oh what would I give to demonstrate, in court, the slot machine mechanics of hobbit gifts and how the credit card is being charged on a button click in there, without player age check. Sigh. Wishes.

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I can't respond until I see a link or quote from Sapience.

It's also hard to vote as I don't know the terms. I doubt SZC has anyone else lined up to make a LOTR MMO, so it's in their interest to let it continue. But if they let it go past 2017 that will be a travesty.

I would not be surprised if they fail to make a deal but keep players in the dark in order to sell Helms Deep.

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Point 7 regarding tangible property.... LOTRO has at all times been ToC'd to hell and back, ask any fanboi, that you do not OWN the game, characters, store items, or anything anything anything, and that Turbine/WB can take it away at any time... so nowhere near tangible.

I'd love to see the actual contract but from what I'm reading in the back and forth (gotta read paraghraph in Tolkien Estate suit, and "reply" in countersuit)....... the countersuit was (figuratively) written by Sapience as if replying to a forums' thread. Fuckin' hell.

Thinking about it, if the Tolkien Estate are successful in their lawsuit then WB, Turbine and Middle-earth Enterprises could be buggered either way.

They; along with every other oppressive, consumer-hating developer and publisher in the gaming industry; have been positioning their output as 'services' and not 'products' for a long time. Now that very manoeuvring and legal chicanery may be set to bite them in the backside.

Either LOTRO is a service that the customer is merely allowed to access, in which case it isn't a tangible property that the customer ever owns and The Tolkien Estate wrestles the rights from them; or LOTRO is a product that the customer owns, which immediately makes a nonsense of all their draconian and unpleasant EULAs and Terms and Conditions and sets them up for about a million actions against them in the small claims courts.

Half expecting them to try redefining LOTRO as a "Prodvice" or "Serduct," something that combines all the aspects of each that are most preferable to them and argue that none of the existing rules apply. Shame that won't work either, as part of the Estate's lawsuit is that they never sold the rights to any media or format that were not specifically defined at the time of sale.

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I wish I had a crystal ball but I don't.

The scenario that comes to mind is:

1. HD sells so badly that they will lower the cost or offer other expansions with it coupled into the cost for their "new players". This will coincide with the ability to magically become level 50 at a push of a button. A prompt will remind you will every level that you gain that you can buy the instant level 50. Imagine starting Moria today. Some stupid package with Moria and HD will be offered together for 1 price.

2. After a few months of poor HD sales they will offer all the xpacs for 1 price trying desperately to bring in "new players". Expect plenty of "extras" included in each package. These will equate to horsies and cosmetics. All will be too gaudy to wear.

3. At this point the housing revamp will not be complete but they will give us a third chest for player homes and another for kin houses. They will do this to shut up the remaining "complainers". The fanbois will defend turbine saying they add so much more to the housing area (storage). Let's not forget folks that the extra storage will only be purchasable by Mithril Coins.

4. After a very lack luster xpac they will be making a decision to go forward with another xpac. Deciding either to continue on with the game or ignoring it all together. This may coincide with Infinite Crisis going down the tubes. They can only go one of 2 ways:

A. Shutting down the game and another studio coming in via WB to start a Lotro 2 or Middle Earth Online. If they hire a quality studio I would expect to pay out of the gate. Regular game price. It could be sub or non sub based but it will most certainly have a store. The game will have good content for all play types and offer compelling storylines.

B: The other way it could go is if IC flops Jeff comes back to the team and tries to squeeze one last dollar out of the LOTR license. They will announce content of all kinds being added for a new xpac. To entice players back they will offer a multiboss raid and total revamp the loot system so people will play the game. They will offer plenty of solo progression in order to get raid quality items. After the 3rd hobbit movie if things do not look good as far as player growth or sustainability they may throw in the towel.

They will announce shutdown, no new content but they will leave the store open and the servers going. DDO and LOTRO staff will be molded (Lay offs) into one team servicing both games.

Hoping for A but probably getting B

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You know, I have been thinking.

For various reasons I had decided against trying to get the Massachusetts Attorney General on the case of WB's hobbit slot machines with no age checks and parent's credit cards on file. Details aside it would have been way too much work to prepare such a case to make to get the MA GA interested.

But now... Let's just imagine that the Tolkien estate suit is in court and they bring forward the MA GA's investigation into the slot machine (strike 1) in the no-physical-goods game (strike 2) and all that as cash gambling, online, without age check (strike 3). It puts the effort/payoff into new light, now does it?

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