Few franchises have reached the heights of popularity that Harry Potter has in the last few decades While the original books and their film adaptations have been the biggest draws, J.K Rowling’s wizarding world has seen plenty of video game representation throughout the years. But not as much as it could have, because it turns out Harry Potter came close to getting a full-on MMO that, ultimately, never came to be.
This revelation comes courtesy of Kim Salzer, a former product marketing director at EA. Speaking with Original Gamer Life, she touched upon the topic of canceled projects that she was involved with in her career and made mention of a Harry Potter MMO that was in the works at EA.
Salzer went on, revealing that the project had actually gotten rather far into development, to the point that there was a beta for it. She also stated that the MMO was going to be a “combination offline/online experience” that would see players receiving real-world rewards in the mail for in-game accomplishments. Despite the progress made, however, the project was eventually canned, and while Salzer didn’t go into detail about why, she did state that EA was going through a transitional period at the time and the leadership wasn’t confident that Harry Potter’s popularity would last long.
As one might guess from that lack of faith in the franchise’s staying power, the MMO was in the works early on in its lifespan. Salzer worked at EA from 2000 to 2003, according to her LinkedIn profile, around the time the first two Harry Potter movies were released. This also means the game was in development at around the same time as World of Warcraft and, with how popular Harry Potter was getting, could have proven to be one of its biggest competitors in the MMO space, had it been released.
Although Salzer didn’t go into detail on how this would-be Harry Potter MMO would’ve played, the mere nature of the project suggests it would have been fairly ambitious. Fans might not be able to play that game, but they’ll be able to play Avalanche Software’s upcoming Hogwarts Legacy in 2022. While not much is still known officially about it, the prospect of an open-world action-RPG that lets players play as their own custom Hogwarts student should definitely meet any demand for a large-scale game set in the wizarding world.
Whether people will be fully on board remains to be seen, however. The Harry Potter franchise is in a rather different place than during its peak. Between the growing backlash to J.K. Rowling’s transphobic views and the lackluster reception to recent entries like the Fantastic Beasts films, a lot of fans have grown a bit weary of Rowling’s wizard universe and think it may be time to put Harry Potter to bed before its reputation takes any more of a beating.