Before the Harry Potter franchise became the global phenomenon it is today, Electronic Arts was in the process of creating an MMO based on its world. However, it appears that it was canceled in the early 2000s because the company did not believe “that intellectual property would last longer than a year or two.”
As Polygon reported, former EA Product Marketing Director Kim Salzer discussed this Harry Potter MMO which was in development between 2000 and 2003 (before the release of the sixth book in the series – Harry Potter and the half-blood prince!) on a Twitch stream that his current business – Orignal Gamer Life – hosted.
Imagine a Harry Potter MMO …
It almost happened but #EA canceled it. They did the research and even did a beta 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) 22 December 2021
“Sometimes I just don’t know where to start,” said Salzer, when asked which canceled game she was most upset about during her time in the games industry. “But a big deal for me, because I was so personally involved in it and it’s such a huge IP that has survived, is a massively multiplayer online 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 research it needed. EA was even working on systems to send prizes and ribbons to players in what Salzer called a “combined offline / online experience”.
While not going into too much detail, she did confirm that it was ultimately called off before reaching the finish line, in part due to the uncertainty surrounding the lasting power of the IP of Harry Potter.
“EA was undergoing changes at that time,” said Salzer, “and they just didn’t know, or didn’t believe enough, that this intellectual property would have a shelf life of more than a year or two.”
Salzar left EA around the time of the first two Harry Potter films, and while EA would continue to release over 10 titles based on his 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 rights to video games through its label Portkey Games.
While there might 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, The Hogwarts Legacy takes place before the events of the Harry Potter books and takes place in the late 1800s, where your personalized character becomes the star of its story.
It was originally slated for release in 2021, but WB Games has postponed the game to 2022 to “give the game the time it needs.”
Hogwarts’ legacy is also shrouded in controversy due to the transphobic comments from Harry Potter creator JK Rowling on Twitter and beyond.
Following those comments, WB Games confirmed that JK Rowling was “not directly involved” with the upcoming RPG, and a report even said the RPG will allow transgender characters.
For more, check out our look at how Harry Potter fans are dealing with JK Rowling.
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Adam Bankhurst is a news editor for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamBankhurst and on Tic.