Before the Harry Potter franchise became the global phenomenon it is today, Electronic Arts was in the process of making a MMO based on its world. However, it appears it was cancelled in the early 2000s because the company didn't believe "that the IP would have a shelf life longer than a year or two."
As reported by Polygon, EA's former director of product marketing Kim Salzer discussed this Harry Potter MMO that was in development between 2000 and 2003 (before the release of the series' sixth book – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was released!) on a Twitch stream that her current firm – Orignal Gamer Life – hosted.
Imagine a Harry Potter MMO…
It almost happened but #EA cancelled it. They did the research and even a beta version of the game, but didn't think Harry Potter was going to be around more than a few years.#harrypotter #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 she was asked about which cancelled game she was most upset about during her time in the games industry. “But a big one for me, because I was so personally involved in it and it’s such a huge IP that has lived on, is a online massively multiplayer game for Harry Potter.”
Before it was 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 mail out prizes and ribbons to players in what Salzer called a "combination offline/online experience."
While she didn't go into too much detail, she did confirm that it was ultimately cancelled before making it to the finish line, in part due to the uncertainty surrounding the lasting power of the Harry Potter IP.
"EA was going through some changes at that time,” said Salzer, “and they just didn’t know, or believe enough, that that IP would have a shelf life longer than a year or two.”
Salzar left EA around the time of the first two Harry Potter films, and while EA would go on to publish more than 10 titles based on its magical world, the MMO never saw the light of day.
In 2022, Warner Bros. now is in charge of the Wizarding World franchise – which includes Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – and that includes the video game rights through its Portkey Games label.
While there may not be an MMO in the future, Harry Potter fans do have Hogwarts Legacy to look forward to in 2022.
Announced at September 2020's PS5 event, Hogwarts Legacy is set before the events of the Harry Potter books and takes place in the late 1800s, where your custom character becomes the star of its story.
It was originally set to be released in 2021, but WB Games delayed the game to 2022 to give "the game the time it needs."
Hogwarts Legacy is also surrounded by controversy due to Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling's transphobic comments on Twitter and beyond.
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