The free MMO based on Tolkien's Middle-earth universe saw a big spike in popularity around its 15th anniversary event.
The Lord of the Rings Online is having a big resurgence. The game reached more than 3,700 peak concurrent players on April 21, according to SteamDB. This is just shy of LOTRO’s all-time peak concurrent player record of 3,965 that was set more than 10 years ago in 2012 when the game launched on Steam.
The surge in popularity for the MMO that originally launched in 2007 is presumably due in part to the arrival of a massive new 15th anniversary update (via PCGamesN). Not only that, but the game recently made a bunch of previously premium content free for all players, and this might have encouraged people to jump in.
LOTRO’s recent growth in popularity wasn’t enough to push the game inside Steam’s top 100 most-played games. However, LOTR also has its own game-specific launcher and client, so the Steam figures represent just a portion of the game’s total audience.
LOTRO was originally developed by Turbine and released in 2007 under a subscription-based model, but made the shift to free-to-play in 2010. Development shifted to Standing Stone Games (comprised of many ex-Turbine developers) in 2016, when the studio also partnered with Daybreak Games (formerly Sony Online Entertainment) as a publishing partner. In 2020, EG7 acquired Lord of the Rings Online and Daybreak for $300 million (as well as other MMOs like Dungeons & Dragons Online and EverQuest).
In other news, there are currently plans for LOTRO to receive visual and technical updates, as well as a current-gen console version, in order to capitalize on Amazon’s upcoming Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power show. Amazon itself was developing a Lord of the Rings MMO until its deal with Tencent fell apart.