LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Creators of the Pokemon Go mobile game phenomenon have launched a new game on Thursday that shows Harry Potter and other famous characters from the magical world in bestselling books and blockbuster movies.
Harry Potter: Wizards Unite was co-developed by Niantic Inc, developer of Pokémon Go, and AT & T's Warner Bros., which owns the rights to develop entertainment based on author J.K. Rowling's popular Harry Potter series.
Wizards Unite was scheduled to debut on Friday, but United States players found they were able to download Thursday afternoon.
Like Pokemon Go, Wizards Unite uses augmented reality and Google mapping to make it look like the characters are appearing in the real world. Players see characters, creatures, and other elements superimposed on the landscape they see through the camera of the cell phone as they move.
At Wizards Unite, users play the role of a new recruit in the Secrecy Status Task Force to help solve a mystery. Players can discover artifacts, cast spells and find characters from the Potter films and prequalify the "Fantastic Animals and Where They Live" movie series, the developers said.
"You see all your favorite characters and artifacts, whether it's the Buckbeak or Sorcerer, Harry or Newt Scamander himself," said Jonathan Knight, studio head of Warner Bros. Games San Francisco.
There is also a new story unfolding within the game, Knight said. "There is a craft game where you are collecting ingredients from potions and creating potions and using them to be a better wizard," he said.
Pokemon Go exploded after its introduction in 2016, sending players to city streets, offices, parks and restaurants to look for colorful animated characters.
Actress Tiffany Haddish, an avid fan of the Harry Potter books, took a look at the Wizards Unite. At a Warner Bros. launch event, Haddish said his favorite part of the game is that it forces people to move in search of clues and characters. She said she had lost five to ten pounds when she was walking Pokemon Go.
"I'm about to start playing this like crazy," Haddish said. "Maybe I'll lose 10 to 15 pounds. Who knows?"
(Reporting by Rollo Ross; Writing by Lisa Richwine and Diane Craft)