Just two years after it launched, Niantic is already giving up on its Harry Potter: Wizards Unite augmented reality experiment. What was supposed to be Pokémon Go for the popular fantasy series will instead become just a memory when the game goes offline forever on January 31, 2022.
In the meantime, Niantic will remove the mobile game from the App and Google Play stores on December 6. It will also increase rewards and decrease cooldown times to make the game less grindy in its final days, while remaining bosses and events will continue to go live until the end of January. Any money players have already spent in-game, however, will remain there.
“Players will not be able to receive a refund on past purchases, except where otherwise required by law,” Harry Potter: Wizards Unite’s developers wrote in today’s announcement. “We have a variety of fun gameplay changes during the remaining few months, so you will have the full opportunity to enjoy your remaining Gold.”
This is somewhat surprising, though it never reached the heights of GO. Pokémon GO has the Pokémon name pushing its popularity, the other games haven't really hit that.
Though this does act as a stark reminder for the amount of money you put in. One day it will be all gone. https://t.co/ph51oVDWPz
— Joe Merrick (@JoeMerrick) November 2, 2021
Released in June 2019, Wizards Unite was largely premised on Niantic’s existing, massively successful Pokémon Go ARG. Instead of playing as Pokémon trainers, they would play as wizards from one of the four Hogwarts houses, battling monsters and collecting resources in-game as they walked around in the real world.
The free-to-play game was also stuffed full of optional microtransactions and harvested player data. But not enough apparently. VentureBeat reports that, based on data from mobile analytics firm Sensor Tower, while Pokémon Go made over $US1 (A$1.35) billion this year alone, Wizards Unite only brought in $US40 (A$54) million.
Instead, Niantic is ready to focus on its next big digital surveillance game: Pikmin Bloom. The collaboration with Nintendo sees players exploring the world in search of little flower creatures and helping them blossom into something more, either by walking a bunch or spending on in-app purchases. The company is also working on a Transformers ARG and a bunch of other projects.
“With nine games and apps in our development pipeline, some of which will go into soft launch in 2022, there are many more amazing worlds that we want to bring to life in new and unique ways,” Niantic wrote in a blog post today.
It’s anybody’s guess when those worlds will actually come into existence or whether they can recapture Pokémon Go’s lightning in a bottle before being snuffed out again.