Pokemon Go was no doubt a monumental success, for a while, Pokemania was back. People came together to try out this brand new idea, old fans and brand new ones, went outside and explored the world around them, to catch the original 151 Pokemon and complete their Pokedexes. Back in the 90s as Pokemon was getting off the ground, so too was a book franchise from the UK, J.K Rowling's magical Harry Potter series of books captivated the world.
Some might say that the Harry Potter craze was the only thing that could rival Pokemon's success. As such it is a no-brainer for the Harry Potter franchise to try their hand at an AR mobile game, here are 10 things we hope Harry Potter: Wizards Unite does better than Pokemon Go:
10. A Better Launch
Pokemon Go's launch was notorious for its buggy launch as millions of people in the United States, Australia, and New Zealand flocked to their App Stores and Play Stores to download the game. Many couldn't even get past the first loading screen, let alone the character creation screen.
Besides the augmented experience within your phones, the real-life experience came as a surprise to many citizens who didn't play the game. Numerous groups went Pokemon hunting together and many of them loitered around and caused numerous obstructions in public places. Hopefully, thanks to the hazardous launch of Pokemon Go, would pave the way for a successful one for Harry Potter: Wizards Unite.
Pokemon Go was released for the US and Australia regions on July 6th. Germany got it a week after that. The UK, Italy and the rest of Europe got it around that week as well. We here in South East Asia only got the game on August 6th, a full month after the initial release. Niantic, the developers of Pokemon Go and now Wizards Unite, have said that this was due to server issues and optimisation as the huge traffic of people playing at once, all going up to tens of millions of players around the world playing together, most of the servers just couldn't keep up.
This is still happening today with the most recent one came during the first Pokemon Go Fest in Chicago crashed as Niantic released the first Legendary Pokemon to the players at the event. Though that was mostly due to American telco companies weren't prepared for a server overload. By the time Wizards Unite releases, hopefully, they are more than prepared for these sort of things.
8. Community Engagement
Despite being touted as a communal, multiplayer game, Pokemon Go can still feel quite solitary and didn't really promote player engagement and interactions within the game, instead, the game still encouraged real-life interactions outside of the game. Which is fine, God knows video gamers are the type of people who need to go out and socialize more. Yet, for a Pokemon game, they left out a key gameplay aspect that defines playground Pokemon interactions and that was trading.
No one could trade Pokemon to each other and you just had to be at the right place at the right time to catch a rare Pokemon. If there were better ways to tell fellow players where something great was happening within the game, without resorting to outside social media apps that interrupt the main game. Wizard Unite can integrate this so well with owl letters, Howlers or even those flare spells that members of Dumbledore's Army could do.
7. Peripheral Integration
Pokemon Go had one exclusive peripheral and that was the Pokemon Go Plus wriststrap, which allowed for real-life arm swings to replace finger swiping on the screen for throwing Pokeballs at Pokemon. Their intent was there and yet no cigar.
If this new game had Bluetooth wands that synced up to your spells and wand gestures, it will definitely get a leg up than the little wristband Pokemon Go Plus was. Having this Bluetooth wand would allow for complete immersion, especially if people dressed up in their house colors and robes. Let's just hope that this sort of peripheral doesn't need an exhaustive power supply to be functional.
6. Lore Integration
Pottermore is a great success and the perfect companion to the Harry Potter fandom. Not only do you enter Hogwarts as a student, get assigned to a house and whatnot, the site is constantly updated with more information on various nooks and crannies of the Harry Potter universe by J.K Rowling herself. Even though the books and the movies have ended a long time ago, Pottermore keeps it alive, fresh and relevant.
Pokemon Go however hardly pulls anything from either the games or the anime. For example, the 3 faction leaders are new characters that have nothing to do with the main games. Pokemon Go doesn't add to the overall lore of Pokemon and certainly plays it safe by not adding anything new to the table.
5. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Though Pokemon Go has now surpassed the initial generation of Pokemon and is reaching the 3rd Generation of Pokemon, the Pokemon overall only serves a few purposes within the game, despite being the main draw. Pokemon are only there to be caught, evolved and fought against rival gyms. You can't really say you have a good relationship with your Pokemon and most of them are just pawns in your gym conquest.
Compared to functions like Pokemon Amie in Pokemon X & Y which allows you to interact and pamper your favorite Pokemon. The beasts of Harry Potter come in all shapes and sizes and inhabit all corners of the world. From Hungarian dragons to scary Boggarts, there all sorts of unique creatures that can come alive in this game. Also, when a new student enrolls into Hogwarts, they are given a pet of their choice, from frogs to cats to rats to owls, similar to starter Pokemon.
4. Rolling Out Content
Pokemon Go has been around for almost two years now, and most people dropped the game around the 3rd month. For a while, there was nothing new. No new Pokemon, gyms, nothing. By the time they rolled out the 2nd generation of Pokemon to inhabit the world, it was too late and didn't bring back half the players they lost after those initial months.
I personally stopped playing as I reached Level 20, which was the soft level cap and allowed you to get most of the higher-tier items by then, and when I have captured around 90 of the available Pokemon, with many duplicates in between. If Wizards Unite could get over the dry spell of content, and offer so many new updates at a constant pace, they could get the audience retention that a franchise like Harry Potter has had for the past 20 years or so and sustain it for a whole new generation.
3. Rival Factions
Instead of Pokemon trainers versus Team Rocket, Pokemon Go went ahead and made 3 new factions based on the 3 Legendary Birds and the values they represent. Moltres for Team Valor, Articuno for Team Mystic and Zapdos for Team Instinct. Though their monikers were vague and most people went with either their favorite Legendary Bird or favorite color, at the end of the day, the red team, Team Valor, had the most members, with Team Wisdom being a close second and Team Instinct barely having half of those numbers.
With Harry Potter, many people all over the world have already made their choice between Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw, and Hufflepuff for years now and it's pretty obvious that it will be integrated into the game. Whether the game allows for people to be either Order of the Phoenix members or Death Eaters remain to be seen, nonetheless, it is a clear bet that Wizards Unite has the upper hand in this aspect against Pokemon Go.
2. Varying Gameplay
Pokemon Go involves a lot of real world walking, stopping to tap the screen, and resume walking. Not exactly the best way to replicate the feeling of being the very best like no one ever was. Sure you could catch and breed Pokemon right from the get-go on your phone, you couldn't battle the Pokemon you encountered or battle other players you meet. For being a Pokemon game, they really took out a big chunk of the core gameplay of the game and focused more on the "Gotta Catch Em All" aspect.
With Harry Potter, there are a myriad of things you could be able to do. From dueling, potion making, Quidditch, the possibilities are endless with what you are able to do and could really stretch the mileage of Harry Potter's huge mobile game debut. Turning us regular muggles into true-blue wizards through these sorts of gameplay styles would be pretty awesome.
1. Making the Wizarding World Come Alive
The thing about Harry Potter is that the wizarding world is already a parallel world to our normal, everyday Muggle world and is shown quite explicitly in the books and movies. The idea of it being a parallel world instead of a world of make-believe can really make the experience much more immersive. Pokemon Go dealt with totally unreal monsters roaming around and really stood out from the world around you. The Pokemon games take place in fictional regions while Harry Potter's Muggle England coexists with the totally magical wizarding world.
From real-life places like Kings Cross Station, Harry Potter has already influenced the real world with Platform 9 3/4 already being a real thing, only without the magical portal that takes you to the Hogwarts Express. Whether it is finding actual House Elves in your home or spotting Dementors near a real-life prison, all Niantic has to do is to nail these world-building aspects of Rowling's masterpiece to captivate the world once more with Harry Potter.
The announcement of this new game is definitely exciting and we can't wait to hear more about it. Only time will tell how much richer Wizards Unite will be compared to Pokemon Go as more info will be released next year.