Harry Potter: Wizards Unite

Harry Potter: Wizards Unite Is a Pokémon GO-like AR Mobile Game

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The creators of Pokémon GO (Niantic Inc.) are joining forces with Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment to create an augmented reality mobile game based on J.K. Rowling’s incredibly popular Harry Potter series. Harry Potter: Wizards Unite will utilize the same AR technology as Pokémon GO. No release date has yet been announced. More details will be revealed in 2018.

“At Niantic, our goal is to leverage technology to create real world experiences that help people to discover the wonderful, and often magical parts of the world around them,” said John Hanke, founder and CEO of Niantic, Inc. “The beloved Harry Potter stories have captured imaginations worldwide for more than 20 years and soon we’ll turn the fantasy into augmented reality, allowing fans and their friends to become wizards and witches.”

Gameplay will operate much like Pokémon GO. Players will explore neighborhoods and cities, learning and casting spells, finding magical artifacts, and encounter beasts and characters from the Harry Potter universe.

“With this game, we are allowing the passionate, worldwide fan base to experience J.K. Rowling’s deeply powerful and imaginative universe in a new, truly immersive way,” said David Haddad, President, 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.”

Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is co-developed by Niantic and Portkey Games. Portkey Games is a games label under WBIE that specifically creates content based on the Harry Potter license. Harry Poter: Wizards Unit will be published by Niantic, and is probably coming some time next year.

Niantic has come under frequent fire and criticism regarding server issues and instability for Pokémon GO, particularly surrounding the game’s rocky launch in Summer 2016. Despite frequent setbacks and problems Pokémon GO proved so popular it reached mainstream cultural phenomenon that most games can only dream of.

Harry Potter’s popularity easily rivals that of Pokémon. Let’s hope they have a handle on the incoming tide of wizards.

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Disastrous Pokémon GO Fest Results in Mass Refunds

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When Pokémon GO first launched in July 2016, it instantly became a cultural phenomenon. Its unprecedented mainstream popularity lead to widespread network issues that lasted for weeks.

Unfortunately all reports from last Saturday’s Pokémon GO Fest on July 22 tell a similar story. While it was meant to be a fun one-year celebration gathering, it instead brought back the same network issues that plagued the game at launch.

Connection issues hampered excited players throughout the day, with most event-goers unable to do the one thing they bought a ticket for. Amenities and organization were also subpar, with few charging stations and very long lines to get in (and out of) Grant Park.

Pokémon GO Fest ended up being such a disaster that Niantic announced mass refunds for everyone who attended ($20 ticket price). They’re also offering $100 worth of PokeCoins. Of course many people paid much more than that with airfare, hotel stay, and the typical overpriced event food.

There’s a video now circulating on YouTube from the event that features very disgruntled event-goers, and Niantic CEO John Hanke being booed on stage.

Niantic released an official statement:

Today at Pokémon GO Fest in Chicago, technical issues created problems for a large number of players attending the event. From everyone at Niantic, we apologize to all of the Trainers who came out to Pokémon GO Fest today. Although we were able to solve many of the technical issues, we were not able to offer every attendee a great experience. We appreciate the patience of all the Trainers who joined us in Chicago this weekend. We will strive to make sure our experiences are of the highest quality going forward.

In addition to the refund and PokeCoins, all attendees will have the Legendary Pokémon Lugia added to their account. Lugia was meant to be the big reward for completing the challenges, but connectivity problems lead to Niantic simply releasing it. Apparently Team Mystic came out ahead on the few Pokémon captures that could be earned, unlocking Articuno as the other Legendary Pokémon.

Given how well Niantic has supported Pokémon GO and stabilized the servers following its rough launch, it’s exceedingly disappointing to see a large-scale event like this crash and burn. Niantic has had a year to iron out the kinks. You would think they’d be able to better prepare for an actual scheduled, ticketed event.

 

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Pokémon GO Fest Chicago Will Include a Global Event

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Pokémon GO’s one year anniversary celebration is in full swing. Niantic has finally detailed what exactly is going down at their ticketed celebratory event Pokémon GO Fest, and it is a neat way to integrate with players all over the world.

Pokémon GO Fest takes place Saturday, July 22 in Grant Park, Chicago, IL. Three Challenge Windows will task both players at the festival and Pokémon GO players everywhere. For the first challenge, festival goers need to catch different types of Pokémon in order to unlock certain rewards. Catching enough water Pokémon grants an XP bonus, while Fire gives out more Candy. These are global rewards that will benefit everyone playing Pokémon GO.

If you’re not attending the event in Chicago, you can still participate. The duration of these earned bonuses are tied to how many Pokémon everyone else catches around the world. Reaching Bronze increases the bonus by 24 hours, and Silver by 48 hours. If enough Pokémon are caught to reach Gold tier, it will unlock the second Challenge Window, which Niantic is keeping a mystery. Completing the second Challenge will reward the third, which unlocks “a major global reward.”

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Niantic hasn’t release the actual numbers required to hit any of these target goals. It would be disappointing for those who paid to play at Pokémon GO Fest to not even unlock the later challenges. I’m fairly certain Niantic won’t let that happen.

The one year mark is also celebrated through new loot boxes and hat-wearing Pikachu. Special Anniversary Boxes can be purchased at a discount in the in-game shop. They include Incubators, Ultra Balls, and Raid Passes for the recently added Raid Battles. Any wild-caught Pikachu can be found wearing Ash’s iconic hat from the Pokémon animated TV show. These extra perks last until July 24.

Pokémon GO Fest takes place on July 22.

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Massive Pokémon GO Update Revamping Gyms, Adding Co-op Raids

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The single biggest update is coming soon to Pokémon GO. The upcoming patch will revamp how Gyms and Gym battles work as well as adding a new cooperative Raid Battle feature.

Gyms will soon feature six permanent slots that can be filled with its controlling team’s Pokémon. Each Pokémon must be unique – no more stacking Dragonites and Snorlaxes! Opposing teams will have to battle them in the order in which they were assigned.

A new motivation system will be integrated with Gyms. Pokémon will lose motivation over time while in a Gym, especially if they lose a battle. As they lose motivation their Combat Power will decrease, making it easier to assault bulky Gyms after awhile. Gym owners can raise their Pokémon’s motivation by giving them berries, giving berries a much more important use. If a Pokémon’s motivation bar is completely drained, it will leave the Gym and return to its Trainer after its next loss.

Gyms will also provide items the same way PokéStops do. New Gym Badges can be leveled up by gathering Gym items every day as well as giving Gym Pokémon berries.

Raid Battles are an entirely new feature. A Raid Boss will take over a Gym, kicking out the current Pokémon. The Raid Boss initially appears as a giant egg with a countdown timer, signaling that a powerful boss will soon appear. Up to 20 trainers will work together to defeat the Raid Boss within a five-minute time limit, and the chance to catch a powerful Pokémon.

You’ll need a Raid Pass to join the fight. You can earn one free Raid Pass per day by visiting a Gym, but you can only hold one at a time. More will be available for purchase in the in-game shop.

New items are being added as rewards for winning Raid Battles. Rare Candy works like a wild candy, letting you use it on any Pokémon. Golden Razz Berries increase the chance of catching a wild Pokémon as well as fully replenishing a Gym-assigned Pokémon’s motivation bar. Two new Technical Machine items let you teach Pokémon new moves.

The Gym portion of the update is being rolled out soon, which will temporarily disable all Gyms during the transition. Then the Raid Battle feature will be added over the next few weeks, beginning with a beta for select players.