Niantic, one of the most prominent publishers in mobile gaming, has announced the impending release of Harry Potter: Wizards Unite for Android and iOS. Working in concert with Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and WB Games’ development team in San Francisco, Niantic will be leveraging the same AR mobile gaming technology used in both Pokémon Go and Ingress, providing the back end and development libraries for the new game to be built upon.
The new game will let players explore J.K. Rowling’s magical world as an overlay of real life environments with which they are already familiar. Players will cast spells, explore their neighborhoods, discover and fight legendary beasts, and team up with other players to take down powerful enemies.
A similar game, Maguss, successfully passed through the Kickstarter gauntlet, and has already been developed, released, and been been in distribution for over a year now. Their game optionally works with a Bluetooth-enabled magic wand, giving players a more authentic experience in terms of spell casting and wand waving that the Niantic Harry Potter offering will most likely not offer. The developers really really want to make it clear that they have nothing to do with J.K. Rowling’s work, with the only similarity between the two conceptual universes being that there are magical beings, including wizards, and that there are spells you can cast using wands. That’s pretty much it.
That said, the success and popularity of Maguss clearly demonstrates the power of the idea of AR based wizarding games, and it will be dwarfed by comparison to the authentic Harry Potter: Wizards Unite game when it is finally released some time next year in 2018. Niantic hasn’t put a deadline on this, which is wise. They’ll need time to fortify their server hosting and game connection network to support the new Harry Potter game so that we don’t see a repeat of the Pokémon Go Fest fiasco last July, where Niantic discovered just how badly they had underestimated demand and resource load for the games they were already running. Niantic is run by smart people, though. They don’t generally make the same mistake twice.
Will the game integrate with The Wizarding World of Harry Potter parks at Universal Studios in Universal City, CA and at the Universal Orlando resort?
Oh, my. We certainly hope so.
Watch this space.