Sierra On-Line first announced the development of a licensed Middle-earth MMORPG in 1998. This caused some excitement among fans, who were awaiting The Lord of the Rings films, and was also slightly controversial for a few design decisions. The most debated design idea was the planned use of "permadeath": When a player character would die in the game, that character would be permanently dead (most MMORPGs resurrect a dead character with minor penalties). Sierra had financial troubles in 1999 and replaced the staff working on the game.

Sierra continued to confirm development on the MMORPG was progressing, but did not release any development details over the next few years. Vivendi Universal Games, the parent company of Sierra, secured eight-year rights to produce computer and video games based on The Lord of the Rings books in 2001. Finally, Vivendi announced an agreement with Turbine in 2003 to produce Middle-earth Online (at that time expected to be released in 2004). In March 2005, Turbine announced that it had bought the rights to make massively multiplayer games based on Tolkien's literature and that Turbine would assume publishing duties on The Lord of the Rings Online from Vivendi. A closed beta was announced on September 8, 2006, and rumored to have begun on September 12, 2006.

An open beta began on March 30, 2007, and was open to all who have pre-ordered the game's Founders Club edition. On April 6, 2007 the beta opened to the public and could be downloaded for free and used until release. The game eventually launched on April 24, 2007, following the completion of beta testing.

Shores of EvendimEdit

See Shores of Evendim.

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