Game Publisher Electronic Arts Canceled Early “Harry Potter” Game, Didn’t Believe the Franchise Would Last

Back in the early 2000s, the Harry Potter series and its related fandom were still in their infancy. The franchise had a strong following, but it seemed there was speculation about whether it was simply a fad that was too niche to remain in the mainstream for very long. Well, that was the opinion of at least one large company. While Potter fans all over the world celebrate the 20th anniversary of the theatrical release of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, it was revealed earlier this week that video game giant Electronic Arts, known for publishing each Potter flick’s video game adaptation, canceled a Potter-based massively multiplayer online (MMO) game in the early 2000s because it doubted the franchise’s staying power.

Kim Salzer, EA’s Director of Product Marketing from 2000 to 2003, recently appeared on a Twitch stream where she was asked about any canceled video game that she recalls being excited about. Salzer revealed that there was a planned MMO game based on the Potter franchise in which she was personally invested. She divulged that EA had reservations about the property living beyond a couple of years.

Thoroughly researched, very confident in the success of this. But it was killed, for lack of a better term, because EA was going through changes at that time and they just didn’t know or believe enough that that IP would have a shelf-life [sic] longer than a year or two.

For those who aren’t familiar with gaming terminology, an MMO is generally an umbrella term for video games that allow players to log on and play online with potentially thousands of other people concurrently. Though the genre has branched off into various other subgenres, people are most familiar with the MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) subgenre, which features characters that players can grow and develop over time while exploring a vast open world. If you require just a bit more context, World of Warcraft is likely the most famous MMO of the last decade. With that in mind, an MMO based in the wizarding world would seem like the obvious choice, right? Not only that, but it was apparently aiming for a whole new magical level of interactivity that would have been “a combination offline/online experience where [they’d] actually mail stuff to the kids, like prizes and ribbons.”

 

 

In hindsight, it’s easy to scoff at EA’s decision to cancel the game while we’re celebrating the 20th anniversary of the first movie, but it likely was for the best. The technology simply wasn’t there to make a proper immersive wizarding world video game that would satisfy Potter fans.

Thankfully, we need not have to wait too long. While not an MMO, the upcoming open-world RPG Hogwarts Legacy has the potential to satisfy our incredibly high expectations. Warner Bros. seems to be fully aware of our expectations as well because not only did it delay the game’s release for over a year, but it was announced earlier this month that the game’s developer, Avalanche Software, will be getting some help. Sumo Nottingham and Red Kite Games, subsidiaries of Sumo Digital, will be assisting Avalanche with the development of Hogwarts Legacy. Sumo Nottingham is currently working on the recently announced Texas Chainsaw Massacre video game while Red Kite Games recently released the LittleBigPlanet spin-off Sackboy: A Big Adventure, last year.

 

 

Do you think that the Potter-based MMO was a missed opportunity? Or do you think it was the right decision to cancel the game? Let us know your thoughts.

 

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Adam Poncharoensub

"Hogwarts is my home!" is a phrase that I've uttered more times than any sane person should (and my long-suffering friends can attest to it.) For as long as I can remember, I've always found myself escaping reality into the wizarding world to feel at peace. Instead, I'm more likely wandering the suburbs of South Florida shouting choice "Harry Potter" and Batman quotes at unsuspecting victims.