Pokemon GO maker Niantic Labs officially confirmed the existence of Harry Potter: Wizards Unite for Android and iOS handsets several hours after first reports about the game emerged on Wednesday. Niantic Chief Executive Officer John Hanke described the upcoming title as the next step in the company's augmented reality endeavors, clearly labeling Harry Potter: Wizards Unite as a mobile AR game similar to the studio's previous two titles, Pokemon GO and Ingress. Mr. Hanke also confirmed that the game is being developed in collaboration with Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and WB Games San Francisco, though it's still unclear who's taking the lead on the project; Harry Potter: Wizards Unite has been confirmed as using Niantic's AR platform, but that doesn't necessarily guarantee Niantic's creative vision will be the dominant influence on the game.
Not many details about the project have been revealed by the San Francisco-based studio, with Mr. Hanke only saying that players can expect to be able to learn spells, search for legendary beasts and fight them, and collaborate with other players, all while exploring real-world locations, just like it was the case with Pokemon GO and Ingress. Some new technologies and innovative gameplay mechanics have also been promised to be featured in the game, though no specific details on the matter have been provided by the company. Earlier this year, Niantic revealed it was experimenting with an audio-driven AR game that would allow people to play it with just headphones and without looking at their phone screens at all times when traveling but it's presently unclear whether that concept was explored by the studio in the context of the Harry Potter universe or an unrelated project.
Rumors about Niantic making a Harry Potter-themed mobile game started circulating the industry shortly after Pokemon GO became a global phenomenon in July 2016, though the firm dismissed them last summer. In light of the new announcement, it appears that initial rumors were correct; with Harry Potter: Wizards Unite being slated for a 2018 release, the game has presumably been in development for around a year now, even if the majority of Niantic's team was still working on Pokemon GO in the last 12 months. The company previously pledged to keep supporting its Pokemon-themed AR game for many years to come and the newly announced project shouldn't affect that ambition.