Niantic announced that it is developing the augmented-reality game, “Harry Potter: Wizards Unite,” with Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment’s WB Games San Francisco division and its newly created Portkey Games label.
For now, there aren’t many additional details about the new Harry Potter game, based on J.K. Rowling’s hugely popular book series and the Warner Bros. movies, which have grossed more than $7.7 billion at the box office to date. The idea is that it would let players virtually immerse themselves in Rowling’s magical world, overlaid on their real-world surroundings via smartphones.
The official website for the game is harrypotterwizardsunite.com. “Harry Potter: Wizards Unite” will “reveal that magic is all around us,” according to Niantic and WB Interactive. The companies promise to let players — as they wander around different neighborhoods and cities — embark on different adventures, learn and cast spells, discover mysterious artifacts, and encounter legendary beasts and iconic characters.
“The beloved Harry Potter stories have captured imaginations worldwide for more than 20 years and soon we’ll turn the fantasy into augmented reality, allowing fans and their friends to become wizards and witches,” John Hanke, founder and CEO of Niantic, said in a statement.
David Haddad, president of Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, added, “With this game, we are allowing the passionate, worldwide fan base to experience J.K. Rowling’s deeply powerful and imaginative universe in a new, truly immersive way.”
The official announcement comes after a rumor surfaced last year that Niantic was developing a Harry Potter AR game — supposedly dubbed “Harry Potter Go” — but that was debunked as a hoax. It’s not clear whether Niantic’s plans for “Harry Potter: Wizards Unite” were already on the drawing board at that point, but the fake news may have planted the seed.
“Pokemon Go,” released by Niantic Labs in July 2016, quickly became a top mobile game and was downloaded more than 750 million times in its first year. Originally incubated within Google, Niantic spun off from the internet giant in 2015, with investments from Google, the Pokémon Co. and Nintendo.
Hanke, in interview last month, predicted that “Pokemon Go has the potential to be a 20-year franchise.” The company plans to eventually launch the game on augmented-reality glasses, potentially include Magic Leap’s forthcoming mixed-reality headset.