Niantic has confirmed the 2018 launch of a new version of its augmented reality game Pokémon Go, which will be called Harry Potter: Wizards Unite.
While the concept remains the same as Pokémon Go, where real-world surroundings merge with the game’s graphics and you explore different neighborhoods looking for Pikachus, the Harry Potter-themed version will have you looking for creatures from Harry Potter’s world of wizardry in real-world locations.
“With Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, players that have been dreaming of becoming real-life Wizards will finally get the chance to experience J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World,” Niantic said in a Wednesday announcement. “Players will learn spells, explore their real-world neighborhoods and cities to discover & fight legendary beasts and team up with others to take down powerful enemies,” the statement further read.
Niantic will be partnering with Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, owners of the Harry Potter series’ video game rights, and the development team of WB Games San Francisco to make this magical dream a reality in 2018.
“Harry Potter: Wizards Unite will leverage the full stack of the Niantic Platform while also providing an opportunity to pioneer all new technology and gameplay mechanics,” said Niantic in its statement.
Meanwhile, according to Warner Bros., Niantic’s Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is not the only Harry Potter-themed game being planned. Several other games are in the pipeline, due to be released under the label Portkey Games. In JK Rowling’s world of wizardry, Portkeys are objects used by wizards to move magically from one place to another.
Reports of a Harry Potter-themed game being developed by Niantic first emerged in July 2016, but the news was soon quashed as a hoax.
Niantic’s attempt in 2012 to integrate location-based augmented reality into its game Ingress did not meet with the same success as last year’s Pokémon Go, probably because it did not have an established brand behind Ingress as it did for the latter.
Pokémon Go became an instant hit after its release last year becoming the most downloaded App Store app of all time in its very first week. It became the fastest game to top the App Store and Google Play, beating Clash Royale in the process.
Piers Harding-Rolls from IHS Markit Consulting is of the opinion that Harry Potter: Wizards Unite will be a “huge deal.”
“If you look at the different major franchises out there, I don’t think there are many that could do Pokémon Go justice as a follow-up,” he says.
The new game is likely to have a technological edge over Pokémon Go in that it can avail the enhanced augmented reality features of Apple’s ARKit and Google’s ARCore, developer tools which were not available when Pokémon Go was being developed.
“I expect the Harry Potter augmented reality experiences will be more robust and complex than they were in Pokemon Go, which should make the game more dynamic and the experience more engaging,” said Harding-Rolls. “But I still don’t think they will be essential to the experience,” he added.
Apart from what we have already discussed above, not much is known about Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. Potter fans will have to wait until next year for the launch, or if they are lucky, Niantic or Warner Bros, or both, may divulge some more information before officially releasing the game.