Niantic announces new Harry Potter-themed mobile game
Clarissa Sabile, Contributor
Illustration by Jennifer Panata
Potterheads have a lot to look forward to: J.K. Rowling’s revealing tweets correcting misinformation about her magical universe, the escalating Fantastic Beasts film series, and now, a new mobile game called Wizards Unite made by the same developers as Pokémon Go, set to drop later this year.
The augmented-reality (AR) qualities of American software company Niantic’s games are what initially fascinate players. Locations that were seen in the Harry Potter films can be accessed, just by strolling by a Starbucks café or post office. Niantic teased the ability to view a popular wand shop in Diagon Alley and interact with a creature like Buckbeak the Hippogriff, which played a tremendous role in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. The distinct movie and book series references and unique AR opportunities are what will bring downloads to Wizards Unite.
Niantic Inc., is well known for their work in creating AR games. AR is a relatively new type of technology that allows users to interact with an augmented version of their real-world environment. Their partnership with Nintendo and The Pokémon Company proved a success in Pokémon Go, with the combined unique experience and die-hard fans of the videogame. In a similar vein, the company partnered with Portkey Games to announce Wizards Unite. This is what gives the company an edge against other mobile games: their cooperative work with established franchises. Anyone that has read through the Harry Potter series probably read it three times or more, so any opportunity to return to the magical world will be taken in a heartbeat.
Niantic released exciting details about its upcoming Harry Potter-themed geocaching game. They described players as “a new recruit of the Statute of Secrecy Task Force”, a group made by the magical government system to contain an unknown magical force called “The Calamity” from non-magical people, AKA Muggles. Apparently, magical things have begun to appear in the Muggle world and it’s the player’s duty to find and hide them from Muggle eyes. The plot may sound over-fabricated and cringey to non-Potterheads, but intriguing to those of us who are diehard fans.
Similar to Pokémon Go’s Pokéstops, Wizards Unite players must walk around in the real-world and follow “Traces”. Instead of catching Pokémon, the player casts spells to retrieve the “Foundable” to return it to its magical place. The games share similar game concepts – the difference is in its fictional plotline and new audience.
Wizards Unite offers “multiplayer Wizarding Challenges”, which allows players to collaborate in defeating villains and creatures. The game features three different magical professions: Auror, Magizoologist or Professor. In contrast to Pokémon Go’s battles between Team Valor, Mystic and Instinct, Wizards Unite asks players to use their combined professional backgrounds to beat these magical foes. This takes away from the thrill of opposing other players. On the other hand, it might be easier to make potential friends rather than enemies.
Both Pokémon and Harry Potter accumulated massive audiences over the past few decades. Since everybody that doesn’t live under a rock knows what Harry Potter is, most people in a crowd have a phone and a handful of those individuals have data, the game will definitely draw attention and downloads. The mobile gaming community is far from accomplished in comparison to its console or computer-based counterparts, however Niantic managed to surpass virality boundaries that are not easy to reach. Will you play Wizards Unite? Honestly, if Dobby or Hedwig appear, the game might be too much to handle. Wizards Unite will launch in late 2019 for Android and iOS devices.