Pokémon Go makers have launched a Harry Potter-themed mobile game
By Shannon Liao, CNN Business
(CNN) — Magic lovers, get ready: The Harry Potter-themed follow up to the hit mobile game Pokémon Go launches worldwide starting Friday.
The rollout of “Harry Potter: Wizards Unite” will begin in the United States and the United Kingdom, according to the game’s official trailer. It’ll support iOS and Android. It’s unclear when the game will debut in other regions.
The augmented reality game was developed by Niantic Labs, which created the hugely successful Pokémon Go. That game, which was released in 2016, allows players to find and capture the popular fictional critters, which appear on users’ phones as if they were really living in the real world.
Pokémon Go has been installed more than one billion times in over 150 countries and has earned more than $2 billion in revenue, Niantic CEO John Hanke said during a talk at the Game Developers Conference in March.
“Harry Potter: Wizards Unite” is Niantic’s much-anticipated successor to that game. The company announced that it was working on a Harry Potter project in 2017, and partnered with Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and WB Games San Francisco’s development team to create it. (Warner Bros. is part of WarnerMedia, CNN’s parent company.)
The game brings augmented reality to the world of Harry Potter, which began as a fantasy series of novels and morphed into a multimedia empire spanning spinoff books, films, video games and amusement parks.
In the Harry Potter universe, magical objects and beings co-exist with non-magical ones, and can often be found hidden among the mundane. One might just have to run headfirst through a train platform, for example, to board a voyage to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Augmented reality is a way for real life to intersect with the Harry Potter universe’s magical creations, making the technology a natural fit.
“Harry Potter: Wizards Unite” allows players to roleplay as wizards tasked with containing magic that appears all over the Muggle (normal, non-magic) world. They’ll have to brew potions, cast spells, and even teleport using a magical device called a Portkey.
While the game is free to play, players will have the option to buy currency in the game using real money. That could be pretty lucrative: Players could spend at least $100 million within the game’s first month of release, according to the analytics company App Annie. While App Annie says that won’t surpass Pokémon Go’s launch, the firm said such a performance would be “no small feat.”
A beta version of the Harry Potter game launched in New Zealand in April and Australia in May. Players spent about $40,000 on that game within the first month of the beta release, according to Sensor Tower, an analytics firm. Sensor Tower says it bases the data on estimates produced by its proprietary models of Apple’s App store and Google Play. A spokesperson for Niantic said the company does not share revenue figures.
“The question remains if the Wizards Unite launch will outperform Pokémon Go,” Lexi Sydow, senior market insights manager for App Annie, wrote in an article last December. “While the Pokémon franchise is worth roughly double the Harry Potter franchise in its entirety, Harry Potter … has a fervent fan following and could attract a new segment of casual, sticky gamers.”
Niantic will also need to engage players in Asia, Sensor Tower co-founder Alex Malafeev told CNN Business. While Pokémon is big in that region, he said, Harry Potter isn’t as popular there as it is in the west.
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