Today, Harry Potter is a multimedia franchise that's grossed untold billions of dollars, but it wasn't always. Back in the early 2000s, there was still a question as to whether or not the books would find success as films or if the whole thing was just a passing fad.
At the time, EA held the game rights to Harry Potter and was trying to make a Harry Potter MMO. But as is so often the case with EA, the game was cancelled before it could ever see the light of day.
In an interview with Twitch streamer The Real Brandalorian (via VGC), former EA director of product marketing Kim Salzer revealed her favorite game that never got made. That game was a Harry Potter MMO that, among other things, would have sent real stuff to children in the mail as part of the overall gameplay loop.
“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 an online massively multiplayer game for Harry Potter,” said Salzer. “We did all the research, we had the beta built out, it was a combination offline/online experience where we’d actually mail stuff to the kids, like prizes and ribbons and stuff like that."
What set this Harry Potter MMO apart wasn't just the physical prizes given to kids, but also how much direct research EA performed to ensure that these mechanics would be well received.
Sadly, it wasn't meant to be. Not because of any failure on the part of the game or its developers, but because EA just didn't think Harry Potter was going to be a big deal well into the future.
“Thoroughly researched, very confident in the success of this. But it was killed, for lack of a better term, because EA was going through changes at that time and they just didn’t know or believe enough that IP would have a shelf-life longer than a year or two.”
Jokes on EA. Even though the books finished in 2007, Harry Potter as a franchise lives on in both films and multiple video games. Although not every game was a success, and there's an argument to be made that JK Rowling would have been a problematic spokesperson for EA.
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