Before the Harry Potter franchise became the global phenomenon it is today, Electronic Arts was creating an MMO based on its world. However, it appears to have been canceled in the early 2000s because the company did not believe “the intellectual property would have a shelf life longer than a year or two”.
As Polygon reported, former EA Product Marketing Director Kim Salzer talked about this Harry Potter MMO that was in development between 2000 and 2003 (prior to the release of the sixth book in the series – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince!) on a Twitch stream that his current company – Orignal Gamer Life – hosted.
Imagine a Harry Potter MMO…
It almost happened but #EA canceled it. They did the research and even a beta version of the game, but didn’t think Harry Potter was going to be around for more than a few years.#Harry Potter #hogwarts #flight of death #mmo #metaverse #multiverse pic.twitter.com/bt5u6YQ2oe
— OGL: Original Player Life (@OGLifeOGL) December 22, 2021
“Sometimes I just don’t know where to start,” Salzer said, when asked which canceled 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 a massive intellectual property that survived, is a massively multiplayer online game for Harry Potter.”
Before it was Expelliarmus-ed (nothing), the team behind had a working beta and had done all the necessary research. EA was even working on systems to send prizes and ribbons to players in what Salzer called a “combined offline/online experience.”
Although she didn’t go into too much detail, she did confirm that she was eventually called off before reaching the finish line, in part due to uncertainty surrounding the enduring power of IP Harry. Potter.
“EA was going through changes at that time,” Salzer said, “and they just didn’t know, or believe enough, that this IP would last longer than a year or two.”
Salzar left EA around the time of the first two Harry Potter movies, and while EA would go on to release over 10 titles based on its wizarding world, the MMO never saw the light of day.
In 2022, Warner Bros. is now in charge of the Wizarding World franchise – which includes Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – and which includes video game rights through its Portkey Games label.
While there may not be an MMO in the future, Harry Potter fans have Hogwarts’ legacy to look forward to in 2022.
Announced during the September 2020 PS5 event, Hogwarts Legacy is set before the events of the Harry Potter books and is set in the late 1800s, where your custom character becomes the star of its story.
It was originally slated for release in 2021, but WB Games delayed the game until 2022 to give “the game the time it needs”.
Hogwarts Legacy is also shrouded in controversy due to Harry Potter creator JK Rowling’s transphobic comments on Twitter and beyond.
Following those comments, WB Games confirmed that JK Rowling was “not directly involved” in the upcoming RPG, and one report even said the RPG would allow transgender characters.
For more, check out our look at how Harry Potter fans are coping with JK Rowling.
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Adam Bankhurst is a reporter for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamBankhurst and on Tic.