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Standing Stone Games Aquisition of LOTRO and DDO


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6 hours ago, Darmokk said:

No, it is equally likely that an expired license means that no *new* content can be developed for the game - but that it can continue to run.

That would not be an unusual deal at all. After all, consumers can continue to read a book after the author lost the rights to write more books in the same IP. A toy can be played with after no new ones can be made. Etc.

The game owning company can easily (and rightfully) claim that neither side in the license fight should just make all the player investments go POOF.

only 2 previous publicized agreements here:

now it could be argued that it is implied in those original statements & thereby implicit that development can happen within the scope of the Trilogy & Hobbit books & it was always intended for them to complete the story.

now this is completely from the seat of my pants (AKA fuzzy memory) so forgive me if i miss details, or get some of the minutia slightly off, but after the ring is destroyed:

Quote

 

- Gimli & a troupe of dwarves establish a dwarf kingdom in the glittering caves where he becomes the first ruler.  Gimli returns to Minas Tirith with a team of Dwarves to rebuild the destoyed main gate with one much stronger of mithril & steel & the dwarves improve the layout of the city.  sometime thereafter, Legolas & he meet up & go on a farwell tour of the forests of Mirkwood & Fangorn followed by a stop at the glittering caves before they make the journey to Edhellond & sail into the west (undying lands) together.

- Aragorn rules from Minas Tirith conducting Imperialistic skirmishes against Harad & Khand to subdue the remaining threats left in the wake of Saurons fall.  he then returns to Annuminas to restore the Northern Kingdom (8 years) where Samwise sends his (now tween-ish)  daughter Elanor (or Goldielocks, can't remember exactly) to serve as handmaiden to Arywen at her court.  Northern Kingdom is restored, Aragorn & Arywen return to Minas Tirith & continue to reign until his death.

-Arywen watches her sons inherit the rule of the lands established under Aragorn after his passing, then she retires to Lorian & the hill of Cerin Amroth where she dies & is buried in the place of their betrothal.

- the hobbits return to the shire, forever changed by their adventures.  Fordos old morgal blade wound continues to affect his health and (a year or so later) Bilbo who had remained in Rivendell makes the journey with the elves to the western shore, stopping in the shire to acquire Frodo.  Sam, Merry & Pippen travel with Bilbo, Frodo & the elves to Mithlond were Frodo & Bilbo make the journey with Galadriel, Elrond & Gandalf across the sea & into the undying lands.

- Samwise gets married to Rosie Cotton, has MANY children (like 11 or something crazy) becomes mayor of the Shire & takes up residence in Michel Delving.  under Samwise mayorship, Aragorn extends the western boundaries of the shire into the white downs establishing the Westmarch & the new  hobbit settlement of Undertowers.  Sam reached old age, where he either passed away, or made the journey into the undying lands.

 

all the above & much much more post the destruction of the ring are contained within the Trilogy & appendix, not even touching on the gray area of the Hobbit works.  so there is plenty of room for Standing Stone games to putz about developing content to pad out the conclusion of the Trilogy.

whether Warner comes back into the picture or not is a matter that won't be touched upon til after a corporate merger.  & if my understanding of how companies like Columbus Nova operate, that would happen in the final year of a 3 year period (or 2 & 1 years.)

regardless Standing Stone is a small team, that is not hiring.  they will continue developing LoTRO on a lean budget for the foreseeable future.  the new hosting is cost effective & they now have a robust working transfer feature in place should they ever need to consolidate again.

with Tolkien Estate opting to settle, rather than pursue litigation, the formality of the license is no longer an issue.  whatever new agreements & conditions added to the previous 3 marketing amendments & wiggly bits ironed out over the contentions in the 2010 regrants will have been ironed out & include elements that reflect more current distribution realities.  it was always just a bit of showmanship anyway.  i've previously argued that relationship has been cast aside when circumstances required it & now evermore so with the new business structuring.

Lotro will continue & the Trilogy story will finish, the scope of what that can include is fairly broad & measures to do it in a cost effective way have already been set up.   & if you read any of the links i provided previously regarding LLC & Columbus Nova...  that structure allows for operation of properties whilst income can "Flow Through" to parties behind the scenes.  so no, there will be no massive reinvestment in LOTRO for the time to come.  but it can continue on with lean development.

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Lots of speculation at this point. 

You could shake an eight ball and get a more definitive answer  as to the direction this new company will take the game.  But the encouraging thing is that they are still producing expansions for an old ass game like Everquest.  They could have let that slip into maintenance mode long ago considering they also have EQ2.  EQ2 is about 12 years old and they still produce expansions for that.  I can not speak to how "full" these xpacs are.  

I can not speak to how responsive the developers are to fans wishes.  I can't predict how they would change things or if they would change anything. 

The only reason for Turbine to let go of the game with the skeleton crew running it is they aren't making money from it or they found a real sucker to take it off their hands. 

I don't think much will change.  Bug fixes yearly content updates, maybe even an expansion.  But the gameplay will probably not change and that is what will keep me away. 

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if Mordor turns out to be an expansion with a price tag, it will be delivered in parts, much the same as the way content is currently released.

for myself, no biggy.  eons ago, back when i still participated on the "OBoards" i said something along the lines of, "early LOTRO was the easy part.  the real challenge lied ahead with delivering Helms Deep (battle) & Minas Tirith (pelennnor battle.)"  at that time i committed to sticking round till Minas Tirith, as i wanted to see what they could do.  when GW2 launched with Divinities Reach setting a new bar for what could be a key hub...  i really started to doubt Turbine would be able to manage.

whilst the "Battle of Pellennor" delivery in the epic was a considerabe improvement over the delivery of Helms Deep battle (in the form of BB's) Helms Deep & Minas Tirith itself were both disappointing for me.

and Angmar... or should i say Mordor (we all know Angmar assets are getting re-purposed like bananas) i am certain i won't pay anything for.  but clearly there is still a market of players that will...

game will go on, til it doesn't.  i'll peak in and putz about a little for free, but my investment in this property ended back with Mirkwood & solidified with Helms Deep.

but for those that still want to invest, the game will go on.

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18 minutes ago, LasraelLarson said:

if Mordor turns out to be an expansion with a price tag, it will be delivered in parts, much the same as the way content is currently released.

 

The exec producer has already alluded to as much on the OF, he expects the expansion to be released (fully) over several patches (with a raid--hopefully--coming out in the second patch after launch)

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37 minutes ago, Papi said:

The exec producer has already alluded to as much on the OF, he expects the expansion to be released (fully) over several patches (with a raid--hopefully--coming out in the second patch after launch)

To be fair dont most expansions in MMOs get released over several patches.  They might be call updates but often these updates are for areas of the world that came with the last expansion.

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57 minutes ago, cossieuk said:

To be fair dont most expansions in MMOs get released over several patches.  They might be call updates but often these updates are for areas of the world that came with the last expansion.

Well, there is kicking out a full expansion worth of content and then releasing subsequent patches to follow up/enhance the initial expansion....and then there is releasing a full expansion worth of content over several months.

I think we may get the latter with LotRO

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14 hours ago, Papi said:

Well, there is kicking out a full expansion worth of content and then releasing subsequent patches to follow up/enhance the initial expansion....and then there is releasing a full expansion worth of content over several months.

I think we may get the latter with LotRO

It'll be interesting to see how they price it.  If they do their traditional method (pre-purchase for bonus items, cash only, and cash or TP to purchase after release), any subsequent updates that should have been part of the initial expansion release should be free to anyone who bought it.  

If they don't do that, they'll be wise to list the expansion content explicitly and completely from day one of the announcement, and not use easy-to-misunderstand weasel words to make it sound like more than what it actually delivers.

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If I remember correctly even WoW releases instance clusters/ Endgame in parts, but the difference is
Lotro will be something like
Expansion: nothing
Update 1: 1 3-man, 1 6-man
Update 2: 1 3-man, 1 6-man
Update 3: Raid

and WoW like
Expanion: Instance cluster 1
Update 1: Instance cluster 2
Update 2: Instance cluster 3

Which does make sense seeing the different size of their development teams :)

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I can't comment on anything from HD and beyond, but I recall previous expansions (after SoM) launched without instance clusters or raids and just had them tacked on as "updates" further down the line, to spread out the sparse content that was being added. People got those if they bought the expansion with either TP or cash.

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I genuinely don't understand how anyone could possibly be optimistic about this news.

The same team of individuals who have spent the past 6 years ruining LOTRO are going to continue to ruin it even further, but without the bankroll of a major studio.  Instead, they're now backed by the half-baked studio where old MMOs go to die; a studio who has the distinction of developing the most anticipated vaporware in gaming history (Everquest Next), a blunder that is second only to No Man's Sky for 2016's biggest gaming fails.

This is a tax write-off by Warner Brothers, nothing more.  It's only fitting that LOTRO's dev team and staff are going indie, because they've been putting out subpar indie-quality work for years (and it's highly likely that Warner Brothers recognized that, and was a major component in this decision).  The same team of devs and community relations mismanagers who drove away LOTRO's entire playerbase with poor decision after poor decision will continue to make poor decisions, until they bankrupt themselves right out of jobs.  LOTRO WILL fall.  And the sooner the better, I say.*

*I know many of you are addicted to LOTRO, and that any suggestion that the game deserves to be cancelled will trigger you into a foaming rage.  I apologize for your discomfort, but I stand behind my convictions.  LOTRO should have been shut down when the servers consolidated and the datacenter was downgraded.  There couldn't have been a clearer signal that all parties concerned no longer gave a toss about the future of the game when that occurred.

 

 

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Everything they said so far, and the desire to finish "The Story", as in the LOTR trilogy of books, still fits these possible timeline:

- launch Mordor landmass in spring 2017

- announce that the license from now on does not allow new content in the same world with the canon characters

- go back to the shire, since it is an existing landmass and you just use non-canon hobbits for the story

They don't even need much of a development staff that way. Mordor has probably had much of its development done already.

Unless they say something that contradicts this this is the most you can assume.

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i read back to something i previously wrote off the top of my head & realized i may need to clarify...

all those pre-trial documents, court filings & discovery contentions we got back in 2014 up to sometime around the end of July suddenly dried up...  because the first official court date for the proper trail was in December (2014.)  the parties in the dispute agreed to settle "in the last hours" as it were before going formally before a judge for the trail "proper."

most of that initial press was based of snooped public court filings to begin with.  not to mention google searches were hitting the discussions we had on this site in the top query returns.  the original 3 marketing clarifications were never public domain, nor the 1998 agreements for Zaentz to license video games & the points of contention over the 2010 re-grants to the original 1998 agreement.  yet, with all the information snooping & open discussion...   Warner did NOT like that at all.

regardless, had to wait pretty much till near the very end of 2016 to see external confirmation (in the form of Standing Stone Games & the new publisher, Daybreak LLC) that that original agreement with Turbine had been updated to reflect new realities.

 

On 12/22/2016 at 3:22 PM, Papi said:

and then there is releasing a full expansion worth of content over several months.

I think we may get the latter with LotRO

indeed.  & how they decide to price it to generate max. revenue will be interesting to see if they go with previous models, or try out a new monitization all together.

 

5 hours ago, psalm8818 said:

I genuinely don't understand how anyone could possibly be optimistic about this news.

The same team of individuals who have spent the past 6 years ruining LOTRO are going to continue to ruin it even further, but without the bankroll of a major studio.  Instead, they're now backed by the half-baked studio where old MMOs go to die; a studio who has the distinction of developing the most anticipated vaporware in gaming history (Everquest Next), a blunder that is second only to No Man's Sky for 2016's biggest gaming fails.

This is a tax write-off by Warner Brothers, nothing more.  It's only fitting that LOTRO's dev team and staff are going indie, because they've been putting out subpar indie-quality work for years (and it's highly likely that Warner Brothers recognized that, and was a major component in this decision).  The same team of devs and community relations mismanagers who drove away LOTRO's entire playerbase with poor decision after poor decision will continue to make poor decisions, until they bankrupt themselves right out of jobs.  LOTRO WILL fall.  And the sooner the better, I say.*

*I know many of you are addicted to LOTRO, and that any suggestion that the game deserves to be cancelled will trigger you into a foaming rage.  I apologize for your discomfort, but I stand behind my convictions.  LOTRO should have been shut down when the servers consolidated and the datacenter was downgraded.  There couldn't have been a clearer signal that all parties concerned no longer gave a toss about the future of the game when that occurred.

it is funny to watch some at massively predict this as the Renascence of LOTRO as well...  heh.

whilst this certainly is NOT the Renascence of LOTRO, you have to understand the "sunken costs fallacy" or "escallation of commitment" & why LOTRO continuing unmired by potential cancellation via 3rd party disagreement, rather than just a natural conclusion via game life-cycle...  for the chronically invested, that tiny thread is all they need.  unbridled optimism...  it is what it is.

as for Warner using this as tax write off?  not exactly...

whilst Daybreak games "Limited Liability Company" status has unique tax structures that allow it to operate as a  flow through entity  this is also about adding profit to the books prior to merger, or cutting expenses...  most likely a bit of both.  Warner transferred away all operating expenses in this move, from the license, to the hosting expenses, to the staffing salaries, etc.

& in about 2 years time we'll find out if Warner completely let the IP go...  or simply deferred the IP.

i honestly hadn't been paying attention to the Daybreak situation, but it turns out another Warner IP, "DC Universe Online" also happens to be up and running on Daybreak.  given all the circumstances surrounding this move, ima go with deferred the IP & in the process tidied up some "bottom line" statements on their books, making any future merger look that much better to investors.


now i wonder how much of that record-breaking & seemingly ridiculous at the time, mobile game of thrones budget got used to back-door finance all these internal Turbine shifts that allowed for the new transfer services (money maker) third party service additions & new hosting (cheaper operation expenses) whilst cutting in house operations (more savings) ...  ?

still fully expect Turbine mobile Game of Thrones cancellation to recoup any remaining budget, (possibly the Batman one as well, though shifting that to any other studio in Warner is also possible.)  & as a final addition to the "bottom line" @Warner...  shutter Turbine completely early in the new year.

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3 hours ago, Moderate Peril said:

So Landmark is to be closed on 21st Feb. Does this bode well for LOTRO? Are DGC more than just a publisher in their relationship with Standing Stone Games?

My first reaction to this, (not knowing or understanding how the publisher role affects the LOTRO/DDO development team, if it does at all) is that isn't a bad sign for Standing Stone.  Landmark had development costs associated with it that Daybreak was on the hook for, and they were probably happy to cut it loose. Getting involved with the Turbine MMOs might have made that decision easier.

But that's just a hunch, I could be completely wrong about that. :)

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Ok reality check folks. regardless of wishful thinking it is unlikely that LOTRO gets re-invigorated, re-branded, or re-energized.  Some points on why:

 

1st Day-Break has two models it uses with it's stable  Those games it actively develops and those that hang on the vine:

Those with Strong IP's and an EXISTING strong player base get resources over an extended time

or the milk runs

where they either fade away using few resources as possible or are slash and burned via store to derive quick revenue.

I'll let you guys guess where LOTRO  falls in that

2nd

Any re-branding or significant improvement means a corresponding infusion of time, effort and more importantly money.  Anyone who runs a business only spends money if they can expect a solid return for that cheddar.  Lorto is a known quantity in the mmo sphere, pretty much everyone who has played an mmo is familiar with what LOTRO is and it's relative quality even if they never played Lotro itself.  To overcome the built in headwinds of:

 

being a "known" quantity and not in the most positive light

most people who played LOTRO no longer do(most of whom have some bitterness about the title)  The shear amount of recourses it would req to get them back and more important keep them in any significant numbers beggar the mind.

Aging Engine (to attract "new" players this alone is a deal breaker)

niche IP(another barrier to "new" blood those who liked the IP already play/played LOTRO)  There is no untapped market of secret Tolkien fanatics waiting in the wings.  And this aint Star Wars.

General scorn within the industry

To overcome that not only would take some serious TLC in both the content and engine re-design dept. but would req a marketing blitz GOD hasn't seen.  It would be cheaper to re-purpose the IP.

 

and 3rd Day Break itself isn't in the position of having a lot of capital hanging around it can throw at a high risk low return venture of   re-branding LOTRO.

They have not had a good couple of years.  Currently they have more failed/shuttered titles than on-going.  Only Turbine itself has a worse avg of going concerns vs shutdowns among still existing developing houses or divisions.

 

No this deal was simply WB divesting itself of a loss leader on the balance sheet before it goes into merger negotiations, and SS looking to use the existing store for a quick, low overhead, and short term revenue boost(most likely via whale farming).  Or possibly access to the IP for future ventures,  I'm unclear on the terms of how much control SS has for future ventures so that could go either way.

EDIT

The best you can realistically hope for is a maintenance mode .  Anything beyond that your projecting your own wishes on reality.

/EDIT

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1 hour ago, Bendin said:

Ok reality check folks. regardless of wishful thinking it is unlikely that LOTRO gets re-invigorated, re-branded, or re-energized.  Some points on why:

... a "known" quantity and not in the most positive light

most people who played LOTRO no longer do(most of whom have some bitterness about the title)  ...

I don't disagree with your overall assessment and I guess that maintenance mode will now be the reality.

I'm not quite so negative about player attitudes though (quelle surprise!) I think this post falls into the error of assuming that the view of LOTRO in these forums is the typical view among players. Yes, the people who play LOTRO now are only a small fraction of the numbers which once applied. But all the people I know in RL who remember LOTRO remember it with fondness, not bitterness. The ones I'm still in touch with ascribe their stopping to RL time limitations or newer games capturing their attention. The people I know in-game certainly aren't characterised by bitterness; we're often saying how much we still hope to see Mordor and the destruction of the ring.

Whenever I'm cheerful around here I always find it wise to point out that LIs are a pain, I turn cosmetic pets off, I can't be bothered with essences and screen FPS is abysmal for me in the newer areas. There are features of the game I really don't like, but the lore and setting keep me coming back.

So yes, I expect we're going into maintenance mode, but the players I'm in touch with are still going to be enjoying it as long as the servers stay up.

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On 6.1.2017 at 9:14 PM, Bendin said:

Ok reality check folks. regardless of wishful thinking it is unlikely that LOTRO gets re-invigorated, re-branded, or re-energized.  Some points on why:

[...]

I'll let you guys guess where LOTRO  falls in that

No guessing needed. As pointed out earlier,

It’s business as usual for both LOTRO and DDO’s operations and development.

doesn't leave any question open, as far as I am concerned.

SNy

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