The Lord Of The Rings Online Slot SagaBy: Ryan Alders, Saturday March 30th 2013
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The saga of The Lord of the Rings (LOTR) online slot game is no less an epic than the brand it represents. In the short two years of its existence it has become the most talked about slot machine in the history of online gaming and even after it has been withdrawn players are hoping for its return.
In February 2010 the leading software provider Microgaming announced a multi-year licensing agreement with Warner Bros for creating state of the art video slots based on the popular The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy. The slots games would incorporate graphics and animation material from the movies, each of which won the Oscar for Best Visual Effects. At that time Roger Raatgever, CEO of Microgaming had said, “We look forward to bringing The Lord of the Rings into the online gaming sphere, where our expertise in game quality and speed to market will ensure its success.”
The release took a while in coming. Meanwhile the hype and the rumors flowed in spate. Microgaming did not release any new game in August 2010 to further build up the expectations. The first part of LOTR subtitled The Fellowship of the Rings went live in September 2010 simultaneously at all Microgaming online casinos. The branded video slot lived up to its hype. The introductory clip that played while the game was being loaded brought back the wonderful characters and exciting moments from the film. Microgaming introduced a new feature called Cinematic Spins in LOTR. The reels faded out while they were spinning and a popular clip from the movie was played across the screen. LOTR had to have Microgaming’s 243 ways format. The characters from the movie were portrayed photographically as symbols and included Frodo, Sauron and Galadriel. When they appeared in winning combinations they recited their best dialogues from the movie.
While players were waiting for the slot game based on the second part of the trilogy to be released, Microgaming revamped The Fellowship of the Ring in September 2011, exactly a year after its release. Gollum the Hobbit, who was once the owner of the Ring, was added. He could appear anywhere and award players with features and bonuses. Another addition to the revamped LOTR online slot game was that it was linked to the four-tier Mega Moolah progressive jackpot, though under different names. The Mithril progressive started from 1 million credits. The bonus game was triggered randomly. Players had to choose between the two towers and spin the corresponding wheel to win one of the four jackpots.
Towards the end of June 2012, less than two years after its launch, LOTR was withdrawn from all Microgaming online casinos. Some online casinos indicated then that the licensing agreement with Warner Bros had come to an end. Actually the problem is slightly different. Warner Bros had bought the rights of The Lord of the Rings trilogy from Harper Collins and the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien. The two have claimed that Warner Bros has violated the terms of the contract and have filed an $80 million dollar lawsuit. The contract gave limited merchandising rights to Warner Bros related to articles of tangible property. Non-tangible rights were not covered in the original contract according to the estate of Tolkien. The lawsuit specifically objects to the LOTR slot game calling it “highly offensive”. This has brought a premature end to the first slot game and it is not known if the remaining two will ever see the light of day.
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