The best way to describe Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is ultimately as an attempt to force lightning to strike the same place twice. That’s because lightning can do exactly that — the old adage is kind of ridiculous when you consider the concept of extremely tall buildings and the existence of lightning rods. But the conditions have to be right and, in the case of Niantic and Warner Bros’ joint AR mobile game, it doesn’t feel like much of a storm is brewing.
The building certainly is towering enough to attract attention, as for many people who undoubtedly own mobile phones, it seems like the Harry Potter books are the only ever to be binded and sold for profit. The ubiquity of comparisons between J.K. Rowling’s fantasy epic and just about everything else in the real world are a meme of their own at this point, so a big budget Harry Potter mobile game is less a marketing partnership than an inevitability of life in 2019. But a fortnight into this augmented reality has made it unclear if even the most ardent fans of Hogwarts hijinks will stick around for long.
The stickiness of Pokemon Go in 2019, three years into its release, is surprising in a lot of ways. Older people who have no nostalgia for Pokemon Red or Blue on their GameBoys have taken to the game in a big way, and despite the initial problems with crashing and loading times and a nightmare that was the first Pokemon GO Fest, people are still playing. After some significant tweaks and additions it feels like a real game, one that’s gone far beyond a freemium time-waster with a big brand attached to it.