Pokemon GO was all the rage when it was first introduced back in 2015, and is still going strong two years later. Shortly after the release of Pokemon GO, a trailer went viral suggesting that Harry Potter would be next to receive the AR treatment, but it was widely believed to be a hoax.
Fast forward to November 2017 and Warner Bros. announced that Niantic is developing a new Harry Potter-themed AR game for mobile devices called Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. It’s one of the most anticipated mobile games of the year, thanks in no small part for ongoing hype for the latest Fantastic Beasts movie. Here’s everything we know so far, including a possible release date, platform speculation and what you can expect in terms of gameplay.
Release date rumours
While the announcement of a new Harry Potter AR game is exciting news, especially for fans of the Harry Potter series, the game’s official release date is yet to be announced: Warner Bros. has only revealed that the game is coming some time in 2019 (a delay from the original planned 2018 launch).
The company has launched a Wizards Unite website where you can 'enlist' - probably the best way to make sure you get updates on the game and get the first chance to sign up to play it.
We speculate that Harry Potter: Wizards Unite AR will become available in Spring/Summer 2019, much like with Pokemon GO and its July 2015 release. Why Spring/Summer? It’s the best time of year for most of us to go out and explore – no one wants to go and hunt mystical creatures in the cold darkness of winter, after all!
If you’re after something to play in the meantime, take a look at our roundup of the best Android games of all time.
Watch the trailer
Warner Bros. announced the 2019 release date with the first official trailer for the game - though be warned, it doesn't feature any actual gameplay footage, so don't expect to get any better an idea of what the game will consist of.
So, which platforms will the upcoming Harry Potter-themed AR game be available for? While the platforms are yet to be confirmed, we imagine that Harry Potter: Wizards Unite will be made available for iOS and Android, much like with Pokémon GO.
It’s the easiest and most accessible way to introduce an AR game at the moment, especially with ARKit and ARCore available to use, but there is another option: the Nintendo Switch. Although the Nintendo Switch didn’t get any Pokémon GO love, its rear-facing camera and touchscreen could provide a more high-end gaming experience than that provided by mobile devices.
It’s a long shot, admittedly, but it’s an option for Niantic.
The biggest question of all revolves around gameplay – what exactly will you be able to do in Harry Potter: Wizards Unite? Warner Bros has confirmed that Niantic, the developers behind the hugely successful Pokémon GO are developing the game, leading us to believe that it’ll share similarities with the hit AR game.
This was somewhat confirmed by the announcement on the Pottermore website, which claims that the game will ‘encourage you’ to step outside with your smartphone and explore your local surroundings. Sound familiar?
There is a difference though: you won’t be finding Pokémon, oh no. Instead, you’ll be exploring your local area to find magical creatures and characters from the HP universe while taking part in a series of adventures. You’ll be able to learn and cast spells, hunt down magical creatures and discover hidden artefacts from the Harry Potter universe.
The first blurbs from the official website hint a bit more about the game's story and structure, suggesting that players will be tasked with tidying up magical messes and keeping them from the Muggle world:
"Please resist the urge to panic. Traces of magic are appearing across the Muggle world without warning and in a rather chaotic manner. We worry it is only a matter of time before even the most incurious Muggles catch wind of it. We call on all witches and wizards to help contain the Calamity or risk the worst of times since You Know Who. Brush up on your spells, get your wand ready, and enlist immediately.
As a member of the Statute of Secrecy Task Force (a new task force formed in partnership between the Ministry of Magic and the International Confederation of Wizards) you will hone lightning fast wand reflexes, an ability to sniff out the faintest whiff of magical disorder from afar, and proficiency in advanced casting of multiple spells."