Mobile game developer Niantic famous for its hit titles Pokemon GO and Ingress on Monday provided the gaming community with the first real look at its upcoming creation Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. To the surprise of probably no one, the game appears to be a reskin of Pokemon GO, which itself is a refined version of Ingress.
While the San Francisco-based studio has certainly been perfecting its formula over the course of the last half a decade — accumulating a sizeable following in the process of doing so — anyone hoping for the firm to move outside of its comfort zone with by far the most valuable intellectual property it ever touched was doing something other than being a reasonable muggle.
In any case, Niantic is already accepting pre-registrations from Android gamers via the Google Play Store, teasing them with the possibility of being enrolled in a closed beta test of Harry Potter: Wizards Unite if they agree to be notified once the game is actually out.
Instead of potions and Poke balls, you're now tasked with collecting artifacts, some of which seem to come in the form of potions, whereas others are ball-shaped. Instead of Gyms, you'll now be visiting AR portals in the role of a new recruit of the Statute of Secrecy Task Force, a secretive task force in charge of preserving the integrity of microtransactions in mobile gaming, or so we hopelessly want to believe. While it doesn't seem like any Pokemon were tasked with playing themselves in this upcoming location-based grinder, some might actually have been awarded cameo roles seeing how various creatures from the mind of J.K. Rowling that can be found within the game act much like pocket monsters from Niantic's last game for Android and iOS and can even be confronted in a similar way.
It's perhaps hard to believe a year and a half passed since Harry Potter: Wizards Unite was originally announced, but time flies when you don't care. That's also presumably how Niantic feels after Pokemon GO generated over $2 billion since its mid-2016 debut, according to several industry trackers.
Though the studio's seminal game Ingress enjoyed a relatively small but loyal following, Pokemon GO catapulted its gameplay formula into the mainstream, prompting literally hundreds of copycats, some of which play arguably better than the monster-collector simulator in question. That state of affairs would leave a smaller studio with little options but to reinvent itself or crumble trying in search of a new niche, yet Niantic is far from your average cruncher of procedurally generated pixel-art RPGs. Instead of wasting resources on an impossible task of capturing lightning in a bottle, it chose to have its formula wrapped around one of the most popular fantasy IPs of the 21st century, with that move by itself providing it with an edge or fifty over its rivals.
Harry Potter: Wizards Unite will be hitting contemporary Android and iOS tablets later this year and to be fair to Niantic, it appears to be the most complex take on the studio's formula yet, with new mini-games replacing some repetitive aspects of Pokemon GO while simultaneously contributing to immersion, which is what saving The Boy Who Lived from a Dementor certainly does. And yes, that's an actual in-game example.
Samsung also reportedly pumped tens of millions of dollars into Niantic to turn the S Pen stylus of its Galaxy Note line into a magic want in the context of the game, though official details on the matter are still lacking.