Niantic, the video game studio behind the wildly popular mobile game Pokémon Go, is getting a second chance at a viral hit by tackling the well-liked wizarding world created by JK Rowling. Harry Potter: Wizards Unite was due to release on Friday this week but the game has gone live in the US and UK on Android and iOS a day early.
In the Wizards Unite lore, the wizarding world is clashing with the Muggle, non-magic world and players take on the role of a new recruit to the Statute of Secrecy Task Force. This team must seek out Foundables which are magical artifacts, creatures, people, and memories that would alert the Muggle world to the existence of the wizarding world. Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, like Pokémon Go before it, utilizes augmented reality to allow players to interact with these Foundables in the environment around you, and also utilizes Niantic’s global map to overlay in-game events with real-world landmarks and locations.
The company Niantic started out as a start-up at Google but became independent in 2015. Not even a year later, the software development company came out with Pokémon Go, a mobile augmented reality game that allowed players to assume the role as a trainer, and use the real world as the backdrop to catching their favorite Pokémon. The game’s concept was brilliant and received lots of attention, but the game’s release was anything but smooth.
Released on July 6, 2016, Pokémon Go launched with a plethora of technical issues. Server outages, crashes, glitches, and security issues plagued the game, making it nearly impossible for players to enjoy in the way it was intended to. Nevertheless, the game got better and its popularity took off, becoming one of the top grossing free mobile games of 2016.
With the experience gained and lessons learned from Pokémon Go‘s launch, Niantic is in position to deliver another hit mobile gaming experience attached to a franchise that birthed a theme park, film franchise with a new spinoff series, and more. It’s going to tough to get players out into the streets in massive waves like with Pokémon Go but achieving even a fraction of that game’s success will be a positive achievement for Niantic.