Following a giveaway on Humble Bundle and a heavy discount during the holiday sales, the Lego versions of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit have been pulled from Steam as well as the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 digital storefronts. These aren't the first games to disappear from digital marketplaces recently. Following the collapse of Telltale Games, many of their high-profile adventure games also vanished from the Steam store.
Reddit user SuperMoonkey first spotted the delisting. While it's still possible to access the web pages for both Lego: The Lord of the Rings and Lego: The Hobbit, neither game can be purchased on any platform. The only way to play these games now is to purchase physical copies - or wait until they return in a digital form, if they ever do.
While it might seem strange that these two games would be removed, there's been some speculation as to the reasons why. The biggest cause of delistings on digital stores comes down to licensing. Publishers that put out games often have a certain time limit on how long they are able to sell products based on films or that contain certain music tracks.
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment has the rights to create games based on the world of Middle-Earth, but those are different from the rights to creating games based on Peter Jackson's film adaptations of Tolkien's work. Though Warner Bros. has yet to clarify the exact situation, it's entirely possible that they have different licensing terms for the world of Middle-Earth and the Jackson films. The film licenses might have expired, leaving the publisher with the rights to the games based on the world but not the films. This would explain the removal of Lego: The Lord of the Rings and Lego: The Hobbit, but not games like Middle-Earth Shadow of Mordor and Shadow of War.
We'll let you know if Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment releases an update on the situation.
Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!