Years ago, EA Redwood Shores was working on a Lord of the Rings game called The Lord of the Rings: The White Council, and it had bold ambitions as an open-world RPG. However, EA announced in 2007 that it had put the game on hiatus, and it was effectively canceled.
But why? Developers who worked on it spoke to The Gamer about the project, and one of the reasons was that EA simply didn’t want to take on another big-budget project after releasing The Godfather in 2006.
“EA was just coming off shipping The Godfather, which was a big and really expensive project that had gone way over budget and schedule,” executive producer Steve Gray said. “I just think there wasn’t appetite for another big over the top project.”
EA never officially canned The White Council, electing to say it was on indefinite hiatus. However, Gray confirmed to The Gamer that the project is “dead as a doornail.”
Creative director Chris Tremmel is also quoted in the piece, and he said the cancellation of the project “is complicated” for a variety of reasons. Tremmel listed off some reasons for why the game ultimately got the boot after two years of development, including its overly ambitious scope. Tremmel said EA was trying to compete with Bethesda and BioWare (which hadn’t been acquired by EA at that point) to create the “ultimate Lord of the Rings experience.”
Tremmel also mentioned that The White Council was being developed for PS3 and Xbox 360 at the start of those console generations, and this shift from the last-gen for an online-focused game like The White Council proved to be a tall task.
Another issue was the expiration of EA’s Lord of the Rings license. When The White Council was canceled in 2007, there wasn’t much time left on EA’s licensing deal for The Lord of the Rings, Tremmel said, and this was an issue because the game still needed two years of work. The license ultimately expired, and now Warner Bros. picked it up to make its own games.
Tremmel listed off more reasons for the cancellation of The White Council, and you can read more about them and the project in general at The Gamer.
While The White Council is no longer happening, more Lord of the Rings games are on the way, including Amazon’s new Lord of the Rings MMO and another title centered on Gollum. Additionally, The other Lord of the Rings MMO, The Lord of the Rings Online, is getting major enhancements and potentially a next-gen edition in 2022.
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