The Harry Potter game we deserve
Image via Pottermore
Harry Potters is one of the most famous franchises ever created. It’s stories have captivated generation across the globe and it continues to cause fever pitch years after the final novel and core series movies were released.
The Wizarding World lives on through the theme parks, Fantastic Beast movie series, Pottermore website and The Cursed Child Westend and Broadway show. It’s influence is seen in nearly every aspect of media and yet the one platform it has never managed to dominate is video games.
We have had various movie tie in games released to varying success. Many of them were fun. None of them were great. The world created by J.K. Rowling is so rich and so beloved that it seems unfathomable that more time and resources have not been committed to create a game based in the Wizarding World that fans can truly get behind.
The most recent incarnation was the mobile game Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, a game where you take control of a student who embarks on their life at Hogwarts. The game contains quests and mini games focused around school lessons where you can learn new spells, take part in flying lessons and work towards upgrading your young wizard. This sounds great in principle except it has two major flaws. One its filled with micro transactions that force players to pay in order to play when they want. Secondly its not the true open world creation of Hogwarts that fans want to explore.
Warner Bros, the company who own the rights to Harry Potter, also has a great history in games with the Arkham series and more than enough resources at their disposal to create a Wizarding World game that not only satisfies fans but is a commercial success.
It’s safe to say that a big budget AAA game set in the Wizarding World could set the video game and Harry Potter community on fire and here are a few ways I think they could achieve this.
Ditch the mobile.
Harry Potter is a franchise that deserves the big budget treatment and the way to do this would be to create a true AAA game for PC and the three main home consoles, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. There are well over 100 million consoles out there and a endless number of people with access to a PC so sales would surely be massive and cover the development and marketing costs that a game like this deserves.
Welcome to Hogwarts.
Every fan of the series has always dreamed of attending the world famous school for witchcraft and wizardry and in the form of a game this dream could become a virtual reality. A fully recreated Hogwarts from the Great Hall to the potions classroom to the Forbidden Forest should all be faithfully recreated to convey the scale and amazement that we all felt when watching the films. With all the floors, corridors and vast grounds that Hogwarts has it also would provide a massive, intricate world for fans to explore and compensate for the fact its just one location.
Lighten the mood.
Harry Potter frankly had a terrible time at Hogwarts. Every year something or someone was trying to kill him and the idea of Lord Voldemort returning felt like the looming apocalypse. A game based in Hogwarts wouldn’t, and shouldn’t, need to have such high stakes to be enjoyable. School can be a tricky thing for any teenager to navigate and its these normal challenges that a player should take on. Making friends, seeing off bullies, dating, achieving targets set by teachers. These are all challenges that could fill the ‘side quest’ criteria to help make Hogwarts feel like a living breathing place. Having players uncover fun secrets of the schools past could also contribute to a grander overarching plot too to help tie everything together.
Teach us everything.
Gameplay could come in the form of school lessons across all 7 years. With interesting gameplay takes on each lesson it would allow for a varied experience and keep the minute to minute action exciting. Imagine memory challenges for A History of Magic, cooking style mini games for Potions, animal management in Care of Magical Creatures, the possibilities for cross genre gameplay is nearly endless. With new skills learned as you progress through the lessons and end of year exams acting as the ‘boss battles’ that would need to be completed to test you and allow you to move on the the next year, it would provide a great gameplay loop and satisfying progression through the game.
Flying and Duelling always win.
Attending lessons would be a great way to progress your character but the true gem in the gameplay could come in the form of duelling and Quidditch. Including a fighting game style duelling mode would add new level of depth to the game and create fantastic multiplayer battles that players could then take online and prove themselves as the best dueller in all of Hogwarts. Fighting games are serious business and are not be be overlooked but most of them include unique fighters all with their own move sets. A duelling version would not need this. It would only need different spells that could be learned and mastered by any player. It would then be the character level and skill of the player using those spells that could decide a winner, leading to a cross between fighting games and modern sports games.
Speaking of sports games a modern Harry Potter game could provide fans with the most in-depth, true to life Quidditch game that we have ever seen. In 2003 there was a Quidditch game released that was a lot of fun to play. Being on PlayStation 2 and origin Xbox limited its creativity however compared to what could be created today. Players could choose which position they want to take on and even team up with other players to fill every position on the pitch in what could allow for dramatic and fun team matches. With speed and verticality it could very well transcend Harry Potter fans and reach a wider audience with potential eSport tournaments too.
These two modes could provide real long term potential to the game as well as allowing multiplayer to be included without feeling shoehorned in.
Progression is key.
Character progression and RPG (Role Playing Game) elements are now standard in open world games and a modern Wizarding World game would need to maximise this to make fans happy. Allowing your character to age and grow up through their school years would add great depth and personalisation to the game. Having a skill tree so players can mould there character would help make everyone feel unique and give players a chance to focus on how they want to play, be it flying, duelling, academics or a broad covering of each.
Don’t make us pay to have fun.
Micro transactions are an unfortunate part of many modern games but they don’t need to stop the fun. In an RPG in-game purchases could simply be used to by new clothes or accessories and not be tied to progression. If a currency was also earned while playing this could then give players the option to build up and earn the money instead of laying down real world cash.
All these transactions could also take place in virtual versions of Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade to add an extra level of immersion. As well as cosmetic items players could also be allowed to buy all kinds of magical items. Brooms, pets, books, lesson accessories, joke shop items could all be brought to enrich the world without allowing players to pay to win.
The magic continues.
Many new games have long term postgame content plans to keep players coming back for more, something a Wizarding World game could easily implement. Imagine a Quidditch World Cup mode introduced for competitive players or a Tri Wizard Tournement introduced to give a long term player challenging new missions/content to take on. Fans of the series would jump at the chance to play new content and if it was themed on these famous events it would only increase that desire. As long as it was carefully thought out and introduced significant content I’m sure players wouldn’t feel aggrieved paying for new experiences either.
I can only hope that the higher powers at Warner Bros see the potential that they are sat on with this series and commit to developing a truly grand adventure set in the Wizarding World so fans of the series can finally play the game they want.