The big story in video games this week has been the release of Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor. While this game takes place in the expansive Lord of the Rings universe, it curiously doesn’t make any mention of that franchise in its title. It is a curious choice on the part of Monolith, especially as it could potentially result in fewer copies of Shadow of Mordor sold due to lack of brand recognition. As an example, imagine something like Knights of the Old Republic not having Star Wars in the title; people don’t usually mention it, but it’s prominently featured nonetheless.
Anyway, in a recent interview with Eurogamer, Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor lead designer Bob Roberts explained the reason for the choice of title.
“One of the things, our goals from the beginning was not to make a movie game–not to just rehash the same events over again. So just trying to make the best game we can, and make it clear that this is its own thing, it’s its own story, it’s its own experience. We’re not just rehashing a movie.”
These guys get full props for resisting the urge to simply lean back up on the Lord of the Rings license and let Shadow of Mordor stand up as its own thing. Based on reviews and sales, this gamble seems to be paying off so far.