Ever since the planet went crazy trying to find augmented reality creatures in Pokémon GO, we've been waiting for the next virtual object game capable of delivering a similar hit. And now, we might finally have one coming, direct from the magical world of Harry Potter.
The new AR game is called Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, and it's being developed by Niantic and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment.
"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," said John Hanke, Niantic's CEO, in a statement on the company's website. "Players will learn spells, explore their real-world neighborhoods and cities to discover [and] fight legendary beasts, and team up with others to take down powerful enemies."
Hanke doesn't offer specifics on when the title will be released, but a report from TechCrunch indicates the AR game may reach the public sometime in 2018.
Almost five years ago Niantic launched Ingress, our first augmented reality mobile game, turning real-world streets, neighborhoods, and cities into a global game board, and bringing people together in a shared digital reality. The incentives it created for exploration, exercise, and real-world social interaction helped spawn a global community of fans, united by their shared experience, and laid the foundations for Niantic's real-world AR gaming platform.
Pokémon GO brought that vision to the world at unprecedented scale and served as a catalyst for the further development of the Niantic platform.
The name of the game indicates that there's likely to be a particularly strong focus on collaborative gaming, and perhaps even social features, based on the recent acquisition of Evertoon (a social platform-focused startup) by Niantic.
The real question now is whether or not the success of Pokémon GO can be repeated with the massively successful Harry Potter franchise, which, due to the myriad hidden magical elements in the films and books, seems like a perfect fit for AR gaming.
In fact, the title is so perfect for AR, and boasts so many fans around the world that — assuming the execution of the game is solid — it would be troubling if Harry Potter: Wizards Unite didn't turn out to be a hit.
If discovering magical elements in the world of Harry Potter layered over the real world can't get fans into AR, then it may be rough going for most other players, aside from outlier hits.