Before the Harry Potter franchise became the global phenomenon it is today, Electronic Arts was in the process of creating an MMO based on its world. However, it appears that it was canceled in the early 2000s because the company didn’t believe “the intellectual property would be durable for more than a year or two”.
As reported by Polygon, Kim Salzer, former Director of Product Marketing at EA, discussed this Harry Potter MMO, which was in development between 2000 and 2003 (before the release of the sixth book in the series – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince!) their current company – Original Gamer Life – hosted.
Imagine a Harry Potter MMO …
It almost happened, however #SHE canceled it. They did research and even made a beta version of the game, but they didn’t think Harry Potter would exist for more than a couple of years.#Harry Potter #hogwarts #voldemort #mmo #metaverse #multiverse pic.twitter.com/bt5u6YQ2oe
– OGL: Original Gamer Life (@OGLifeOGL) December 22, 2021
“Sometimes I just don’t know where to start,” said Salzer when asked which canceled game she was most annoyed about during her time in the games industry. “But a big one for me, because I was so personally involved and it is such a large IP that lives on, is an online massively multiplayer game for Harry Potter.”
Before it got Expelliarmus-ed (you’re welcome), the team behind it had a working beta and had done all the necessary research. EA was even in the process of working on systems to send prizes and ribbons to players in what Salzer called “a combination of offline / online experience”.
While not going into too much detail, she confirmed that it was ultimately canceled before she reached the finish line, in part due to uncertainty about the enduring power of the Harry Potter IP.
“EA went through some changes at that time,” said Salzer, “and they just didn’t know or didn’t believe enough that this intellectual property would last for more than a year or two.”
Salzar left EA around the time of the first two Harry Potter films, and while EA released more than 10 titles based on its magical world, the MMO never saw the light of day.
In 2022, Warner Bros. is now responsible for the Wizarding World franchise – which includes Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – and that includes video game rights through the Portkey Games label.
Even if there won’t be an MMO in the future, Harry Potter fans can look forward to the legacy of Hogwarts in 2022.
Announced at the PS5 event in September 2020, Hogwarts Legacy takes place before the events of the Harry Potter books and takes place in the late 19th century, where your individual character becomes the star of its story.
It was originally scheduled to be released in 2021, but WB Games delayed the game until 2022 to “give the game the time it needs”.
Hogwarts Legacy is also surrounded by controversy because of Harry Potter creator JK Rowling’s transphobic comments on Twitter and beyond.
Following these comments, WB Games confirmed that JK Rowling was “not directly involved in the upcoming RPG,” and one report even stated that the RPG will allow transgender characters.
For more information, check out our look at How Harry Potter Fans Treat JK Rowling.
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