Get ready to grab a battery pack because the developers behind Pokémon Go are back with a brand new game based around the wizarding universe of Harry Potter.
Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, developed by Niantic Labs and co-developed by Warner Bros. Interactive and its new brand Portkey Games, will build upon the breakout successs of Pokémon Go by evolving the augmented reality gameplay that made last year’s title a breakout hit. Touting the game as the ‘next step in the evolution of AR mobile entertainment’, Niantic promises that players "will learn spells, explore their real world neighborhoods and cities to discover and fight legendary beasts and team up with others to take down powerful enemies".
The mechanics of the game look like it will be similar to Pokémon Go and Niantic’s previous title Ingress, with players roaming the street in pursuit of power-ups and to defend hotly contested landmarks.
‘With this game, we are allowing the passionate, worldwide fan base to explore J.K. Rowling’s deeply powerful and imaginative universe in a new, truly immersive way,’ said David Haddad, president of Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment.
‘It is wonderful to have Niantic’s remarkable augmented reality expertise as we develop this incredibly rich wizarding world for players to explore in their everyday lives.’
From a technological perspective what looks to be the most interesting aspect of this new app is how it builds on the AR foundations of its predecessors. For many people, Pokémon Gowas their first experience of AR, and was a key tool for making the tech relatable. While the hype around AR was already building, Pokémon Go firmly thrust the technology into the spotlight, with Apple and Google subsequently announcing their own AR development kits for iOS and Android respectively.
However succesful Pokémon Go was, there were a few setbacks with bugs and connectivity issues which led to a lot of players jumping ship. Niantic did send out updates and bug fixes, but they were often months too late. Speaking to The Verge, Niantic CEO John Hanke recognised the issues: "With our previous game Ingress we were very communicative with players, and very open. And we weren’t as communicative and open in the beginning [of Pokémon Go] because that was sort of a new process for our partners. I think we’ve become much more open over time."
The company is taking its time in developing the new game, and says that more details will be revealed in 2018.