Whether or not we’ll ever see a Harry Potter MMO — and it’d be really dumb if nobody took advantage of this great IP — something that grates on my nerves every time I hear it is when people say “Why do we need a Harry Potter MMO? I mean, we have Wizard101, and that’s pretty much the same thing!”
To me, that’s like saying, “Why have a Star Trek MMO when you have EVE Online? They have pretty much the same thing — space, ships, combat, um, asteroids.”
Now, I’m not the biggest Harry Potter or Wizard101 fan, but I like and respect both franchises for what they are. I appreciate what Wizard101 brought to the MMO scene in its accessibility, crossover appeal to kids and adults alike, and a fun blending of a card game with MMORPG trappings. But, to me, it’s not Harry Potter, even if Ambrose is meant to be a knockoff of Dumbledore, or the fact that the first world is set in a magical school for wanna-be wizards. Clumping both franchises together as “one and the same” does a disservice to what each of them does best.
Wizard101 may have its origins in the Harry Potter motif, but it takes a vastly different direction and becomes its own creature early on. It’s simplistic and attractive both visually and in the game mechanics, and has no qualms playing up the cartoony angle.
If Harry Potter ever became a MMO, it certainly wouldn’t be bright primary colors and rainbows, but one that has a darker atmosphere among J.K. Rowling’s settings. I don’t love Harry Potter for its storyline (which is pretty basic and derivative if we want to be honest with ourselves) but for the creativity and detail shown to the magical world, from candy to fireworks, plants to animals, curses to potions.
I think Harry Potter could translate very well to a MMORPG, all things considered. Rowling certainly created enough items, creatures, locations, figures and mysteries to fit into a MMO structure, not to mention class choices (which type of magic you’d specialize in), factions (Hogwarts houses), and leveling (what year you are, plus post-graduate years).
With all due respect to Wizard101, we haven’t seen a Harry Potter MMO yet, and I don’t think anyone should be deterred from making one just because there’s another magic-themed MMO out there.