Niantic's next augmented reality phenomenon is still shrouded in mystery.
Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is coming to an Android phone near you eventually. We know that it's currently under development by Niantic and Portkey Games, so it's going to be both an augmented reality game that remains faithful to J.K. Rowling's source material and, most importantly, the Warner Bros. film franchise.
What do we know about the game so far?
To be honest, not much is currently know about Wizards Unite at this point, beyond the official website where you can sign up to be among the first to know the latest news and updates on the game's release. Even there, not much info is given about the game itself beyond the following paragraph:
"Harry Potter: Wizards Unite uses state-of-the-art augmented reality technology to reveal the magic all around us. Explore real-world neighborhoods and cities to discover mysterious artifacts, learn to cast spells, and encounter legendary beasts and iconic characters along the way!"
The game is being developed in a partnership between Niantic (Ingress, Pokemon GO) and Portkey Games, a new gaming studio created by Warner Bros. tasked with creating mobile games based in the Harry Potter universe.
Portkey Games has already had a hand in Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, which is a more traditional RPG co-developed with TinyCo set in the familiar halls of Hogwarts, and while we might be able to glean some info about the overall look and feel of how a Harry Potter game would look on mobile, Hogwarts Mystery and Wizards Unite will be vastly different experiences (apart from the inevitable in-app purchases).
The developers are working with a massive fictional world that's been fleshed out with tons of history, characters, and legendary beasts.
For starters, with Wizards Unite being an AR-style game developed in the tradition of Ingress and Pokemon GO, we can expect the game to require players to travel around to real-life locations in our Muggle world to unlock and interact with the Wizarding world through our phones.
At this point, we're only left to speculate what an augmented reality game based on the Harry Potter universe could look like. Whereas Ingress created its own alien backstory and the core Pokemon experience was a natural fit for an AR game, it isn't immediately clear how AR would fit into a Harry Potter game — but there's reason to be excited. The developers are working with a massive fictional world that's been fleshed out with tons of history, characters, and legendary beasts.
At launch I think it's safe to expect something pretty standard where you're exploring locations, collecting items, and building up your wizard stats in whatever form that takes. But what has me most excited about Wizards Unite is the all the potential awesomeness that could be explored from within the Harry Potter universe and the places where the Potter phenomenon has crossed over into our world. Will it centralize around life at Hogwarts, or explore other aspects of the Wizarding world?
it will be interesting to see how real-life locations such as platform 9 3/4 at King's Cross and other iconic film locations around the UK — not to mention the Harry Potter theme park at Universal Studios — might come into play. I could also daydream for hours about playing some form of Quidditch in AR, or at the very least getting an in-game bonus for attending a Quidditch tournament.
Like I said, there's a wealth of material for Niantic and Portkey to draw upon so we can't wait to see which direction they take this game.
When is the game coming out?
There's been no word from Portkey or Niantic regarding a release date, but consider how Pokemon Go's early summer release date certainly help drive its popularity to become the summer fad of 2016. If Warner Bros. is hoping to recreate that magical first summer against with Wizards Unite, an early Summer 2018 release date must be up on some whiteboard somewhere.
We'll be sure to keep you updated when any firm dates are announced and be sure to sign up at the Harry Potter: Wizards Unite website.
Are you excited for Harry Potter: Wizards Unite?
Let us know in the comments and let us know what you'd love to see in an augmented reality game set in Harry Potter's magical world.