It looks like the Harry Potter version of Pokémon GO won't appear in 2018 after all, as the company has decided pushed the game's release to 2019.
"Get ready for some exciting and fun adventures ahead," the company said in a blog post. "We've been hard at work with our partners at WB Games and can't wait to bring the magic of Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, part of the Portkey Games label, to you in 2019."
However, in the interim, anxious fans just got a new trailer to whet their appetites and get a hint at what the gameplay looks like. In addition, Niantic has updated the game's website to reflect the creative unveiled in the trailer, also pushing out teasers on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
The trailer and website reinforce the premise disclosed previously, where magical forces are leaking into the Muggle world and players are challenged to cast spells to contain the mystical threats. In the trailer, a girl wielding a wand casts a spell to catch a golden snitch, so, apparently, there will be a hunting element as well.
After announcing Harry Potter Wizards Unite a little over a year ago, Niantic CEO John Hanke hinted in January that the game would arrive no sooner than July. Then, in a summer 2018 recap blog post under the header "Getting ready for an exciting Fall," the game was listed alongside Pokémon GO updates (which ended up being Adventure Sync) and the Ingress Prime launch.
Today's announcement is likely disappointing to patient fans. They have seen not only the Ingress reboot, but also location-based AR games built on Google Maps API from the Jurassic Park and Ghostbusters franchises announced and launched since the announcement of Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. (Similarly, the Walking Dead entry into the genre was announced in August 2017, but launched in July 2018, so it, too, arrived less than a year after its announcement.)
Have Niantic's ambitions, including its Niantic Real World Platform, upon which the Harry Potter game is expected to be built, and the Adventure Sync background step tracking feature that will also be included in the game, stretched the company too thin?
Or has working with an IP owner caused the delay, given the fact that Ingress Prime (based on Niantic's own IP) arrived within a shorter time frame? Or, does Niantic need to feed more crowdsourced data to enable the features of its Real World Platform? Without a cloak of invisibility with which to sneak around Niantic's offices and eavesdrop, we can't say.
In the meantime, there's no shortage of apps from Niantic and others that Harry Potter fans can use to brush up on their location-based AR gaming skills.