While watching the latest trailer for Middle Earth: God of War-dor, I realised that I'd started to think of the Lord of the Rings references as a sort of product placement. There's a splatter of blood, a decapitation, a roaring of monsters, and then the narrator mentions something about Sauron. It's branded decapitation, y'see. In the latest video, a ranger uses 'wraith' powers to see into the minds of his enemies, seeking their weaknesses and fears. It seems like a perfect opportunity for more product placement, which is something I'd like to encourage in games as in films. The industry needs a new pair of shoes, after all.
If you're going to slap the Tolkien brand on those orcs, why not take things a step further by monetising their hopes, dreams and fears? It's a simple enough process. The wraith pops into Ian the Axe Chief's bonce and finds that he is feeling grumpy because he hasn't had his morning coffee. Pass him a cup of Ken'cko to soothe the savagery and pass by safely. And what of that Balrog over yonder? Dig through the smoke and mirrors of his brainpipe and you might find that he 'might be mad at the whole of Middle Earth (TM) but he's completely crazy for the taste of new Lonely Mountain Dew'. Toss him a can and see if you can't become chums.
A wasted opportunity, says I. Monetise that Middle Earth.