Why it matters: Amazon Game Studios at E3 last month laid off dozens of employees, leading many to question its future. This partnership with Athlon Games provides some much needed stability for the studio, at least from the outside looking in.

Athlon Games is teaming up with Amazon Game Studios to help bring its upcoming Lord of the Rings game to market.

Athlon parent company Leyou announced in September that the publisher had signed a long-term licensing agreement with Middle-earth Enterprises to "create a completely new experience for fans of the landmark fantasy work of J.R.R. Tolkien."

The game was said to be set "in the world of Middle-earth long at a time long before the events of The Lord of the Rings," allowing players to explore lands, creatures and people never seen before in the Tolkien universe. Today's e-mailed presser from Amazon Game Studios notes it will be "set in the world of Middle-earth portrayed in The Lord of the Rings literary trilogy" but doesn't mention a specific time period. Presumably, it's still in the earlier period as previously mentioned.

The free-to-play massively multiplayer online game will be marketed and published globally by Amazon Game Studios except in China where Leyou will handle those duties.

The MMO doesn't yet have a release date meaning it's unclear if it will arrive before or after Amazon's original television series based on The Lord of the Rings. Amazon specifically mentioned that the show is being developed separately from the game and that the two are unrelated.

Masthead credit: The One Ring from The Lord of the Rings by Eeli Purola