EA has been taking it on the chin lately. First, Activision uses the funds from Guitar Hero to pop some corporate steroids and become the largest game publisher in the world (not bad for a company that, years ago, was rumored to be on the verge of filing bankruptcy). EA had a horrible year in 2008, with titles that just didn't sell like they were supposed to (no doubt hindered by the delay in the newest Harry Potter movie, pushing that title out to this year). Now, another property has left -- the Lord Of The Rings game series based on the movies (the LotR games by Turbine, like the MMORPG, are from rights to the books, not the movies). The deal expired on December 31, 2008. The rights have reverted back to Warner Bros. Actually, it's back to New Line, but New Line got absorbed into the Time Warner parent company, so that's the result. Warners has been pumping extra cash into their games division. Before, they just licensed titles and distributed them, like Tomb Raider: Underworld, and self-developing stuff based on their properties, like the Watchmen game. Warners also owns Monolith (a heavy hitter in game development, with the Cate Archer (No One Lives Forever) games, The Matrix Online, Tron 2.0, FEAR, and Condemned) and Travelers Tales (the LEGO games as well as Sonic R, which I will never forgive). Rumors are also circulating that TT is working on a LEGO Harry Potter game, which will pit them against the regular HP games from EA.
This might not be a bad thing, as the last LotR game by EA, Conquest, didn't do very well. Developed by Pandemic, it was greeted with a tepid response from reviewers, selling only 170 000 copies in January. Signs indicate the game was rushed to the market to beat the rights-expiring deadline.
So all you Ringers, get ready for a paradigm shift. Time will tell if it's good or bad.