Pokemon Go developer releases new Harry Potter mobile game in Japan

One of the developers of the smash-hit mobile game “Pokemon Go” has jointly released a new Harry Potter game for smartphones in Japan, featuring augmented reality technology that blends “wizarding” with the real world.

The Japanese version of “Harry Potter: Wizards Unite” was released by Pokemon Go co-developer Niantic Inc. and Warner Bros. Japan LLC, in a country where not only Harry Potter novels but movies, a theme park and merchandise inspired by the franchise have become hugely popular.

The latest game debuted on Apple Inc.’s iOS and Google LLC.’s Android operating systems in the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand on June 21, and can now be downloaded for free in over 100 countries including Japan.

It is similar in concept to Pokemon-Go, in which users catch virtual characters that appear on their smartphone screens based on the player’s location in the real world.

In the latest Harry Potter game, a player, with a customized ID, will encounter various creatures and then try to return them to the wizardly world by casting spells.

A player can also visit an “inn” to regain energy or meet other players in a “fortress” where they do battle with wizards and creatures. Such spots will appear on the smartphone screen.

“This year marks the 20th anniversary since the first sale of the Harry Potter series in Japan. Some fans at the time are now enjoying them with their children,” said Masami Takahashi, president of Warner Bros. Japan, at a Tokyo press event. “We hope we can entice more fans in Japan through this game.”

Setsuto Murai, representative director of Niantic Japan, said, “Our company mission is to promote adventure on foot with others. Through this game, anybody can experience an enjoyable adventure with Harry Potter.”

Among other similar location-based smartphone games, Square Enix Co. is set to release a new title from its popular role-playing Dragon Quest series called “Dragon Quest Walk” later this year that enables players to locate and battle monsters in real-world locations.

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