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If you've been considering stocking up on some new Lord of the Rings games (or some of the older titles), you may have a hard time getting your hands on a few of the titles from digital distributors, because they've been pulled for the time being.
Gamespot is reporting that not only have some Lord of the Rings games been pulled off of Steam, but also delisted from the Xbox Store and the PlayStation Store. The games in question are Lego: The Lord of the Rings and Lego: The Hobbit from Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and TT Fusion.
The article states that this is likely due to a licensing issue where the publishing licenses for those games have expired and will now require renewal in order to be hosted again. This happened after Disney bought Marvel, with various games coming down from digital storefronts, but games like Marvel Ultimate Alliance eventually returned, along with Activision's version of Deadpool.
In this case, the Lego: The Lord of the Rings and Lego: The Hobbit were released in 2012 and 2014 respectively. The first game came out for the Xbox 360, PS3, PC and the Wii, while the latter title came out for the seventh gen consoles and for the Xbox One, PS4, and Wii U.
It's possible that the license for Lego: The Lord of the Rings expired for the old distribution platforms, and so Warner Bros., will have to renew it for distribution on the PS4, Xbox One, and PC. As for Lego: The Hobbit, it could come down to the licensed music or content. Gamespot suggests that since both games feature storylines from the movies that they will need to have the distribution licenses renewed every so often if they include content from the actual movies from Warner Bros.
Rockstar Games also ran into similar issues with the Grand Theft Auto games, where every so often the digital iterations of the titles come down off the e-tailer shelves as Rockstar has to remove licensed content from the titles (usually music).
For the longest time, a music issue prevented Hitman: Contracts from being available on digital distributors due to a licensed song that plays in the game.
These kind of legal intrusions on digital distribution is one of the reasons gamers haven't been all too fond of diving into buying into the all-digital future.
On the upside, if you already own a copy of Lego: The Hobbit or Lego: The Lord of the Rings you can still access the games from your library, and you should still be able to re-download the games. However, if you don't own the games you won't be able to download them or purchase them digitally for the Xbox One, PS4, or PC for the time being.
Additionally, games like Shadow of Mordor and Shadow of War have not been affected by the removal, and you can still purchase these games digitally from the aforementioned storefronts.
There's no ETA on when the Lego games will return featuring the Lord of the Rings, but typically most brand name games that get removed from digital storefronts don't stay gone for too long.