- Harry Potter, the fictional wizard who inspired a billion-dollar franchise of books, movies, toys and amusement park attractions, is coming to smartphones with a location-based mobile game using augmented reality (AR), the technology that overlays digital images on real background seen through a smartphone, per a statement. “Harry Potter: Wizards Unite” was developed by Niantic Labs, which brought AR to the masses with its “Pokemon Go” game last year, TechCrunch reported.
- Warner Bros. Interactive and its Portkey Games studio co-developed the game title, which will be released next year. The game will let people experience Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World through their mobile devices.
- Players can learn spells and explore their real-world surroundings, where they will discover and fight legendary virtual beasts. They can also team up with others to combat powerful enemies, Niantic said.
When Pokemon Go debuted, it was not uncommon to see young people roaming their neighborhoods with their smartphones trying to capture virtual Pokemon. Given the enduring popularity of the Harry Potter franchise, there could be a similar phenomenon next year when the new game is released.
Still,there’s something about Harry Potter that feels so 1990s, so pre-iPhone. While millions of parents have bought the books to urge their youngsters to read and develop fundamental language skills, the entertainment brand recognizes it needs to reinvent itself on mobile platforms to engage the next generation of youngsters who are more likely to consume media on a smartphone.
“Harry Potter: Wizards Unite” builds on Niantic’s experience with mobile game “Ingress,” released in 2012, and especially with “Pokemon Go,” a worldwide sensation. The latter proved the marketability of mobile AR and essentially spurred technology giants like Apple and Google to develop its capabilities even further. Apple’s ARKit and Google’s ARCore are now in the hands of software developers that will put their creative energies into a technology that can reach a mass market. And “Harry Potter” isn’t alone in the AR gaming space, with AMC Networks introducing a game based on its “Walking Dead” series and retailers using AR in virtual treasure hunts.
Total spending on AR and virtual reality products and services will jump from $11.4 billion this year to about $215 billion in four years, per an August study from IDC. Games will dominate AR and VR technology with total spending reaching $9.5 billion by 2021, the researcher said.