Harry Potter: Wizards Unite has released a day early in select markets, suddenly appearing for download in the App Store and Google Play for users located within the United States and United Kingdom. Niantic's follow-up to the massively successful Pokemon GO is still scheduled for a wider launch tomorrow, June 21, although it's unclear just how widespread that launch will be.
Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is another Alternate Reality Game from developer Niantic, a company that's well-versed in the genre. Even before Pokemon GO, Niantic was famous for Ingress, an ARG title that had players operating as spies throughout their locations. Pokemon GO was the game that launched Niantic to global fame, however, as the title continues to dominate mobile game revenue and download numbers well into its third year of operation. Harry Potter: Wizards Unite functions quite similarly to Pokemon GO in the sense that it incorporates visuals from its license and places them in the real world through phone AR technology, using a device's camera to view the environment in front of a user and then populating it with objectives, characters, and more.
Harry Potter: Wizards Unite was supposed to release tomorrow, and fans were eagerly anticipating the release of perhaps one of the few licenses an ARG title could have that rivals Pokemon in global popularity. Fans in the United States and United Kingdom woke up to a pleasant surprise today when Niantic launched the game one day ahead of schedule for those users, likely to massage potential server issues that could come with a simultaneous launch. Pokemon GO was famously a total mess when it first launched globally, and Niantic has learned its lesson, adopting a slower approach to Harry Potter: Wizards Unite.
Of course, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite has already been available for weeks to users in Australia and New Zealand, who have been running what amounts to a beta test for Niantic thanks to the region's lower population numbers putting less stress on the game's servers. Niantic needs to maintain both the Pokemon GO and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite online functionality at the same time soon, so rolling out the game slowly in select regions makes a lot of sense given that fact.
That won't change how some fans feel left out by the seemingly arbitrary decision to support the United States and United Kingdom with an early release of Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, but it at least makes sense. For those who are able to access the game already, there's a lot of resentment from others in countries who don't have it yet. Does that make the US and UK Slytherins? Are the rest of us Gryffindors for being so patient and brave? Those questions and more will be answered when Harry Potter: Wizards Unite finally releases worldwide tomorrow.