Wizards Unite is Niantic’s next potential AR obsession

Wizards Unite is Niantic's next potential AR obsession

There’s never been a mobile gaming sensation quite like Pokémon Go, and in summer 2016, Niantic’s game had millions of people wandering their neighborhoods to catch digital monsters. You could see it on the faces of the people staring down at their phones as they shambled around: the excitement of catching a new Pokémon for the first time or winning a gym battle, or alternately, the frustration of the game’s many early glitches.

But there might be another mobile phenomenon just like it next year or soon after: Niantic and Warner Bros. announced that they’re working on Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, a new location-based, augmented reality game. It will seemingly follow the Pokémon Go mold as it sends you around the real world to learn spells, battle magical creatures, and soak in some of that media universe’s ample magic.

Early details are sparse, but based on what they’ve said, we have some sense of what to expect when Wizards Unite finally hits the App Store and Play Store (assumedly; no platforms have been specified yet). Here’s what we know so far, as well as what we’re hoping to see from this augmented adaptation.

Early details

When it comes to massive entertainment franchises, Harry Potter actually seems like a rather ideal swap for Nintendo’s gaming series. Both Pokémon and Harry Potter are widely-loved, cross-media universes that appeal to all ages and have endured for 20 or more years. They’re also enormous money-makers: Pokémon has grossed more than $55 billion from its myriad ventures, while Harry Potter comes in behind at about $25 billion as of last year.

Most importantly, they’ve created vast worlds that loads of people care about, and that are likewise filled with plenty of interesting characters, places, story threads, and more. And that’s exactly why we’re excited to see what Niantic and Warner Bros. are cooking up with Harry Potter: Wizards Unite.

They haven’t shared any screenshots or in-game imagery of any sort, but according to the press release, “players will go on adventures, learn and cast spells, discover mysterious artifacts, and encounter legendary beasts and iconic characters.” That’s all done by exploring the real world around you, whether it’s your local park, town square, or a nearby major city, or hunting for fun elsewhere while on vacation or traveling the globe.

You’ll take the role of a wizard or witch and “discover the wonderful, and often magical parts of the world around [you],” wrote Niantic CEO John Hanke in the press release, noting his studio’s overall philosophy towards its location-based games. His blog post also suggests that you’ll be able to team up with others to “battle powerful enemies.” A blog on official Harry Potter site Pottermore, meanwhile, suggests you’ll be “bumping into iconic wizarding world characters along the way. Crikey. Who knows who you’ll spot in your local park?”

Furthermore, it’s expected to “use state-of-the-art augmented reality mobile technology,” perhaps hinting at a more advanced or immersive experience than seeing 3D Pokémon in your surroundings via your phone camera. And the Niantic blog post adds that the game will “leverage the full stack of the Niantic Platform while also providing an opportunity to pioneer all-new technology and gameplay mechanics.”

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