Walk to Mordor: How your fan activities can get you into hot water, real quick
UPDATE: See NEW INFO at the BOTTOM
Now, not everybody is necessarily addicted to his/her/their smartphone as some people are (*coughcough*, looksintothemirror) and some of you might even use those technological miracles for something decent - like a walking app. Keeping healthy, right?
Well, that is exactly what Tolkien fan Matt Beckett thought. He thought - "well, why not have an app that compares your progress in walking with the journey the Fellowship takes?"
Et voilà, Walk to Mordor was born.
The Web Archive has a first link to it in August 2016 so it is safe to assume it came online about that time.
It was a very 'slim' app in the sense that you even had to enter the distances you had walked on any given day yourself. Tracking your movements would have demanded way more rights and access than Beckett wanted to have and I think it is safe to assume he simply did not want to grab any surplus data as most apps want to. You needed to have an account created and a login to see when you did what but that was about it.
Basically, it made for a fun time for everyone who had a love for Tolkien and doing the walking. I am sure you can choose your preferred social media channel and search for the hashtag and you will find tons of entries on it (at least on Twitter it works! (Opens in a new window))
As far as I can tell Beckett did not monetize the app. You did not have to pay for it, you did not have in-app ads or anything, it was all very basic. This was one of the app store descriptions:
Level up your exercise by tracking the distance you walk/run/bike/etc along the path Sam and Frodo took to Mordor in Lord of the Rings. Relive the fantasy while getting or staying fit!
Add friends who also use the app to see their progress, comment on each others achievements, and help keep motivation high.
See friends activity and milestones in real-time in the activity feed. Settings allow the metrically deficient to track their progress in miles.
If you look up "walk to mordor challenge" you will often find this app involved in it.
Then, on Oct 19, CNET pushed the app in one of its posts (Opens in a new window) that got picked up by many other outlets.
A few days later this appeared with the official website of the app:
When exactly this happened I can no longer determine but I managed to get cache screenshots of the page shortly afterwards which show you - I have both Google and Bing screenshots - that it only took a couple of days for Middle-earth Enterprises (Opens in a new window) to react to this.
This cached page was screenshot on Oct 25th, early in the morning. By that time the official webpage had already 'disappeared'; on Oct 20th the Google app store still had the app.
And this is the sword of Damocles to each and all fan activities - you might end up on the receiving end and quite honestly, who can afford a lawyer to fight against this?
A pity. I had wanted to finally do this as well, starting on Jan 3, 2022.
P.S. If we get an official app in the future I hope Mr. Beckett will be involved.
P.P.S. Legally speaking, taking any of the names, characters, and/or places from Hobbit or LotR is illegal. So, unless you are a licensee using the name Galadriel might get you in trouble; it's just how it is (assuming that money is involved somewhere.)
UPDATE: The LotR Conqueror Challenge
I think I finally have the explanation for this particular blog post of mine and the removal of the Walk to Mordor app from all smartphone app stores - someone is making money off it now, as I had suggested.
New Zealand company MyVirtualMission (Opens in a new window) has been building a business with web and mobile apps to exercise. One of the latest editions to their portfolio was The Conqueror Challenges (Opens in a new window) which they added in September 2016 and which proved incredibly popular because of the pandemic - people started to need individual exercise regimens more than ever and this obviously involves a lot of money - and the Challenges are themed: Berlin Wall, Niagara Falls - or The Lord of the Rings (film trilogy only.)
If you have a look at their website you will see a wide range of options (Opens in a new window), none of them for free. If you do the
1x THE LORD OF THE RINGS Challenge // US $49.99 | UK £39.99 | €44.99
you will get:
1x Challenge Entry
Stunning finisher’s medal
Virtually travel from The Shire to Mordor
Get 20+ stories and 6+ postcards
Plant 5 real trees or stop 50 plastic bottles from entering the ocean
1x Digital certificate of completion
Medal dispatched on completion
Please also note: "All 5 virtual challenges were designed based on THE LORD OF THE RINGS film trilogy and they focus solely on Frodo and Sam’s journey."
This is an offically licensed app and the license has been given by Middle-earth Enterprises (Opens in a new window). The company is not on the current licensees' list (yet.) Proof of the license is usually found with such an entry somewhere on the bottom of the product or service page.
The official Facebook page of The Conqueror Challenges has published news (Opens in a new window) on this yesterday so this is a very recent development - and you get to see to it basically before the rest of the world (release date was April 6, 2022.) The whole thing is run via TCC app (Opens in a new window).
Adam El-Agez is the founder and CEO to MVM and TCC; info on the company via his Linkedin profile (Opens in a new window). Screenshot (c) official website to TCC; other info via Google Play Store and the official FB page.
This post was originally published (Opens in a new window) on October 29th, 2021; updated April 7th, 2022.
It was released three days early for my - then - patrons.