Niantic officially announces Harry Potter: Wizards Unite and reveals new details about the augmented reality game in the vein of Pokémon GO. The software developer made a splash last summer when they debuted their Pokémon-based mobile app, which became an almost instant success. Pokémon GO quickly became the biggest mobile game in U.S. history, with 21 million active users just a week after its initial launch in the country, and was downloaded more than 750 million times in its first year. Following that success with a game based on the popular Pokémon IP, Niantic is setting its sights on an arguably even bigger property.
J.K. Rowling's first Harry Potter novel hit shelves in 1997 and the books following the Boy Who Lived have since gone on to become not only one of the biggest YA series in the world, but inspired one of the most successful blockbuster franchises in history. Beyond the realm of film and books, though, Harry Potter has also expanded to multiple video games, the community/website Pottermore, and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park at Universal Studios Florida. Given the popularity of Harry Potter, it seemed a no brainer that Niantic would tackle the Wizarding World with their next AR game.
Now, with a press release on their website, Niantic officially announced their new title, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. Rumors of the game first surfaced last summer, though they were quickly shot down, then new reports surfaced earlier today pointing to Niantic using their 2012 game Ingress as an influence on how to adapt the Boy Who Lived's expansive world to an AR mobile experience. Niantic's announcement confirms those reports, debuts the Harry Potter: Wizards Unite logo [below], and offers new details on the upcoming game:
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. 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.
To produce the game, Niantic has partnered with Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and the WB Games San Francisco development team. While much of Niantic's statement confirms the reports that surfaced earlier today, the game developer does not mention when Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is expected to debut; previous reports offered a timeframe of 2018, though it was unclear when exactly the game could become available to users next year. Considering Niantic only just announced Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, they may not have a target release date in mind just yet - or, at least, one that they're willing to lock themselves into.
As for the new details provided by Niantic, they confirm speculation that the developer will adapt the mechanics of Ingress to fit the spell-casting wonders of the Wizarding World. Plus, the mention of fighting legendary beasts (rather than Harry Potter's infamous foe, Voldemort) indicates it may not stick too closely to the main narrative of the original novels - and may, instead, provide some tie-in potential with Warner Bros' upcoming sequel to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which will hit theaters late in 2018.
Although Niantic's announcement doesn't offer too much more information than we already knew from previous reports, fans can at least take heart that the developer has officially revealed the game is coming. When it will actually arrive in our mobile game stores remains to be seen, but Harry Potter fans will no doubt be eagerly awaiting any new information regarding Harry Potter: Wizards Unite.
Harry Potter: Wizards Unite will reportedly release sometime in 2018.