5:00am PT by Natalie Jarvey
Harry Potter Mobile Game Will Turn Users into Hogwarts Students
An entire generation of Harry Potter fans who dreamed of attending Hogwarts will now have a chance to enroll at the school of witchcraft and wizardry through a new mobile game.
Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery will give fans the opportunity to forge their own path at the famed school by taking courses in Defense Against the Dark Arts, Potions, Dueling Club and more. The game takes place in the 1980s — which in the Harry Potter timeline means it is set well before Harry, Ron, Hermione and their classmates began their studies — but it will feature such characters as Dumbledore, Hagrid and Professor Snape.
Mobile game developer Jam City is behind the title, which is being planned for a spring 2018 release. The company, known for its work on puzzle games like Cookie Jam and Panda Pop, has licensed the IP from Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, which will release the game under its new Wizarding World-centric label, Portkey Games.
"Nothing like this has ever been done before," says Jam City CEO Chris DeWolfe of creating a mobile experience around the Harry Potter franchise. There have been 13 Harry Potter games since 2001, all of which remained faithful to the source material from J.K. Rowling's books and the subsequent films. Hogwarts Mystery will be the first made-for-mobile Harry Potter adventure game.
DeWolfe says Jam City conducted focus groups with fans to come up with the game play for Hogwarts Mystery. Their feedback, he says, "all seemed to revolve around Hogwarts and actually being a student there."
The game will be free to play with in-app purchases that will enhance the experience. It is being designed so that updates will refresh the game play — which will include learning to cast spells and becoming a more powerful wizard — long after the title is released. "Theoretically, this game could be going on for many years," DeWolfe says.
Harry Potter is one of the most beloved properties in the Warner Bros. IP library, and the studio has made efforts to keep the franchise thriving long after the eight-film franchise ended in 2011. Warner Bros. and Rowling licensed the IP to Universal Studios for the creation of Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park attractions. In 2018, the studio will release the second of five planned Fantastic Beasts spin-offs.
"There are not many Harry Potter titles in the App Store because J.K. and her team are very selective," says Jam City president Josh Yguado. "But the creative vision we had and the artist we brought forward to work on the game got them comfortable with working with us."
Not only will the game feature well-known characters and settings, it is also tapping into the current nostalgia trend with its 1980s setting, which means it will serve as a prequel of sorts to the Harry Potter books and films. The Jam City executives say they were inspired to set the series back in time by the popularity of 1980s-set Stranger Things and the revival of other older entertainment properties such as Star Wars and Star Trek.
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment president David Haddad said in a statement that the game "will be an exciting, fun way for fans to experience the Wizarding World."
When it is released next year, Hogwarts Mystery will be available via the Apple App Store, Google Play and Amazon Appstore.