Pokémon Go developer Niantic’s next augmented reality mobile game, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, launches on June 21 in the U.S. and United Kingdom. Players will cast spells, battle creatures, brew potions and uncover wizarding secrets hidden in the real world, while muggles look on in confusion. Silly muggles.
I grew up obsessed with Harry Potter. It’ll always have a place in my heart. I even liked the first Fantastic Beasts well enough! So, setting aside Jo Rowling’s swerve into WTF-ery... what the fuck are they thinking with this game?
It made sense with Pokemon. The entire point of the franchise is wandering around the world to find creatures that are basically just animals. Birds wander into grocery stores all the time; catching a Pidgey at my local Fry’s makes total sense.
Harry Potter, though? A major plot point is secrecy. Wizards Unite doesn’t have players tracking down magical creatures to make sure the wizarding world stays secret; we’re full-on fighting bad guys in public. The only way to excuse that would be to introduce a new element to the franchise, like some sort of weird magic aberration that we have to close but takes us to a plane where we can fight things with nobody noticing. Something weird like that.
I’m not just saying this as someone who loved Harry Potter, though. If you even just watch the movies at all, hiding magic from the world at large is a major plot point. It’s a huge source of conflict. The aesthetics of what we’ve seen so far don’t look particularly distinct, the concepts don’t make sense, and the premise contradicts a huge part of the series. Who is the game supposed to be for, then?
(Side note--I definitely had to watch the ad a few times because I thought the girl they featured was Krysten Ritter.)