This new Harry Potter mobile game could be the next Pokemon Go
Pokémon GO, the mobile game that allowed players to catch virtual versions of the pocket monsters in the real world, was a phenomenon, inspiring players to head outdoors and explore.
Now Pokémon GO developer Niantic has revealed more details of the next Augmented Reality (AR) game they are working on - and it looks set to cause a similar stir later this year.
Harry Potter-themed follow-up 'Wizards Unite' is in the works, a game that will allow players to find and battle fantasy beasts in real-world locations.
How will it work?
Similar to Pokémon GO's AR tech - which layered virtual beasts on top of the real-world images produced by a smartphone's camera - Wizards Unite overlays the wizarding world of Harry Potter on your immediate surroundings.
So you'll be walk around their neighbourhoods with their phones to uncover traces of magic and magical items called 'Foundables.'
The game will see players teaming up with others to take down powerful enemies (Photo: Warner Brothers)
When the game was first announced over a year ago, Niantic confirmed that players will learn spells before exploring their neighbourhood to search for these mysterious artefacts, fighting legendary beasts along the way and teaming up with others to take down powerful enemies.
The game has its own version of Pokéstops (real-world locations that granted players in-game items) called 'Muggle locations', and collecting items at these locations helps to refill your Spell Energy, allowing wizards and witches to continue their all important work of protecting the Foundables.
Is there a story?
Wizards Unite looks set to come with its own meta, and Niantic detailed what that would entail in a press release.
In the game, a calamity has befallen the wizarding world, causing artefacts, creatures, people, and even memories to mysteriously appear in the Muggle world.
Witches and wizards from across the globe must come together to solve the mystery of The Calamity, overcome the confounding chaotic magic that surrounds these 'Foundables,' and return them to their rightful place, keeping them safe from Muggle eyes.
Your journey begins as a new recruit of the Statute of Secrecy Task Force (you'll also be able to customise a character and choose their magical profession), established by the Ministry of Magic and the International Confederation of Wizards for the purpose of investigating and containing The Calamity.
(Photo: Warner Bros)
The game is expected to draw from all of the 'mainline' Harry Potter stories, as well as the Fantastic Beasts films.
In the years since Pokémon GO's release, AR technology has improved drastically, and Wizards Unite looks to make use of more modern tech with a big new feature - Portkeys.
Portkeys are teleportation items you can pick up that require keys to unlock.
Once you've found said key and unlocked your Portkey, you'll be able to summon an augmented reality portal on your phone screen.
Step forward through this 'portal' and you'll find yourself in a virtual recreation of one of the Wizarding World's iconic locations - Dumbledore's office, for instance - and here you can explore for more secrets.
Will there be multiplayer?
Good new for Potter fans wanting to work together: the game will launch with multiplayer activities, including Wizarding Challenges that allow a group of friends to team up and take on Death Eaters, Dementors, and other dark arts threats.
Will it be safe?
You couldn't go far without spotting someone glued to Pokémon GO. And in extreme cases that meant players crashing their cars, toppling over cliffs and even being robbed at gunpoint.
Questions will be asked over whether a Harry Potter follow-up could be equally as distracting. Pokémon GO came with warning screens that reminded players to be aware of their surroundings.
Features introduced to Pokémon GO, such as the app shutting off when it detected the player was moving at driving speed, will likely make a return.
Pokemon Go was credited with getting players out and about, but also raised safety concerns (Photo: Getty)
Will it be another flash in the pan?
Pokémon GO was inescapable for a number of weeks, but the app's usage quickly dropped off.
Thanks to updates and the introduction of new Pokémon to catch, a small, loyal fanbase still exists, but Niantic will be desperate to come up with new ways to hold their audience's attention much longer.
And a brand as powerful as Harry Potter could be the route to that goal.
While Pokémon was previously popular among gamers, a much wider audience is already familiar with JK Rowling's magical saga, so the game could have a potentially larger and more dedicated fanbase to tap into.
Harry Potter: Wizards Unite could be an even bigger phenomenon than Pokémon GO (Photo: Warner Brothers)
In a press release, Niantic described Wizards Unite as a game with a "deep, multi-year narrative arc", and product marketing boss Archit Bhargava told Eurogamer that it is a "forever game" for fans, and that the company expected it to last "decades".
When can I play it?
The release date of the new mobile game has finally been confirmed by its developers.
During a press event in Los Angeles, Niantic boss John Hanke announced Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is due to release in the UK and US on 21 June.
The game has already been available in beta form in Australia and New Zealand for a couple of months, and the game will be made available in more regions at a later date.
You can find out more about Wizards Unite by heading to the game's official website
This article originally appeared on our sister site, inews