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Turbine acquires rights to publish Middle-Earth Online

Turbine Inc. has aquired the exclusive rights to develop and publish massively multiplayer online games based on The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, including the forthcoming Middle-Earth Online.

The deal is the result of negotiations between Turbine, Tolkien Entertainment and Vivendi Universal. Under a previous contract Turbine were only responsible for developing MEO, with publishing rights belonging to Vivendi. The new agreement is effective immediately.

"Turbine has been instrumental in the direction and production of Middle-Earth Online, its service and the community since day one," said Turbine president and CEO Jeffrey Anderson. "Together with Tolkien Enterprises, we intend to produce the best possible representation of these outstanding literary works and ensure a long and exciting future for Middle-Earth Online."

"We are pleased to be working with Turbine," added Tolkien Enterprises executive Albert M. Bendich. "We are confident that, under Turbine's development, Middle-Earth Online will faithfully bring-to-life the realms of Middle-earth for Tolkien fans everywhere to explore and enjoy."

The new deal is the latest in a series of aggressive moves by Turbine. Currently the largest privately-held online game studio in North America, the company now owns or holds significant interest in all of the games and services which it produces. In early 2004 Turbine purchased the Asheron's Call franchise from Microsoft, and is presently self-funding the first Dungeons & Dragons MMORPG.

Middle-Earth Online is not slated for release until next year, but Turbine says 100,000 fans have already registered at middle-earthonline.com. The development team is now said to be considering further enhancements to the game as a result.

Turbine has confirmed that it is currently in negotiations with "key strategic partners" regarding launch throughout Europe, the US, China, Japan and Korea, and will announce more details shortly.

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Ellie Gibson: Ellie spent nearly a decade working at Eurogamer, specialising in hard-hitting executive interviews and nob jokes. These days she does a comedy show and podcast. She pops back now and again to write the odd article and steal our biscuits.
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