The Legend Of Harry: Nintendo Made A Play For The Harry Potter License In The Late-90s

Well, here’s a big one for the missed opportunities file – new reports say Nintendo tried to snag the exclusive rights to Harry Potter back when the series was first exploding in the late 90s.

According to Unseen 64, the authoritative source on unmade and unreleased video games, Nintendo’s American branch made a pitch to J.K Rowling for the exclusive licensing rights to the Harry Potter franchise back in 1998. At the time, nobody knew Harry Potter would get as monstrously huge as it did, so a blanket license was being auctioned off – one company would get the rights to make video games, movies, TV shows and whatever else based on the Potter books. So yes, Nintendo could have had a piece of the Harry Potter movie pie.

Obviously Nintendo led with games, pitching both a Zelda-esque action adventure, and a Quidditch sim. The proposed games would have been for the N64 and Gameboy Advance, with additional titles planned for each new book in the series. According to an unnamed American Nintendo concept artist, the mood around Nintendo’s offices was frantic when it was announced the Potter license was hitting the auction block…

“The license went up for sale and all these major media companies were putting together pitches. All together it was only a week of insanely furious scribbling things to the digital artists to create animations for mock game demos.”

There was also some debate between Nintendo’s American and Japanese branches over what kind of art style to present in the pitch. The American side wanted art similar to that in the Potter books, while Japan wanted a more traditionally Nintendo-flavored anime look. Here’s some concept art that was produced for the pitch…

Nintendo’s bid was presented to Rowling herself, but ultimately she went with Warner Bros. due to them having a foot in movies and TV. Eventually Warner Bros. would sub-license Harry Potter to EA and some rather forgettable Harry Potter games were produced.

If we’re looking at the big picture, it wouldn’t have been the best business move for Rowling to go with Nintendo, but that said, I’m pretty sad we never got a game that combined the fantastic storytelling and deep world of Harry Potter, and the impeccable design of Zelda. Maybe some day.

via Unseen 64