In June 2019, Niantic, famous for this little mobile game called Pokémon Go, launched a very similar title; Harry Potter: Wizards Unite was, as the name suggests, a wizard and spell based AR game.
Apparently, however, the game has forgotten its broomstick as it did not quite fly, and Niantic has now announced that the game will be shut down. A longer blog post tells us that the title will not be available for download from December 6, when the servers are completely shut down on January 31, 2022.
The blog tells us that Niantic will not just give up the game, with more events a month until the end, but it is not clear how interested players will be in events in the game when the rewards soon disappear.
So why is Wizards Unite closing? Although Niantic has not shared official player statistics, it appears that the number of players is much lower than on Pokémon Go. In the Play Store, Wizards Unite has nearly 319,000 reviews, while Pokemon Go has nearly 15 million.
Sure, Pokemon Go has been out for three years more than the Harry Potter game, but that difference in rating would not be as noticeable if they were even very close in popularity.
Analysis: bad news for AR games?
Following the huge popularity of Pokémon Go, many similar AR games appeared to try to compete with the $ 1,000,000,000 mobile game. year.
Together with Harry Potter: Wizards Unite we saw Jurassic World Alive, The Witcher: Monster Slayer, recently Pikmin Bloom and soon also Transformers: Heavy Metal.
These games are all very, very similar as they are AR based games where you wander around the real world and gather resources in the game, fight against (or collect) creatures and claim territory.
So far, none of the titles have come close to competing with Pokémon Go in terms of audience popularity, and this Wizards Unite novelty suggests that they may not be durable at all.
This is surprising given Harry Potter’s popularity as a franchise, and it shows that there is more to a good AR game than brand recognition.
Pokémon Go is remarkable as it is one of the few where you gather, instead of fighting, the creatures you find around the map, making it a more relaxing game. It also has multiplayer online, territory-controlling and pedometer features, while many of the rivals have only some (or none) of them.
We’re curious to see what happens to the countless other AR games, some of which do not seem as similar as Harry Potter: Wizards Unite; perhaps a second place for the animal-gathering leviathan will emerge, but it is also possible that the AR bubble will burst.