Mobile game developer Niantic has games featuring two of the world's most iconic IPs under its banner: Pokémon GO and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. It's no secret that Pokémon GO is a much larger success than Wizards Unite, but there are ups and downs to both of these games. Here's how Niantic's two hit games can improve by taking notes from each other.
1. Wizarding Challenges in Harry Potter: Wizards Unite
The Knight Bus feature in Harry Potter: Wizards Unite allows players to use Runestones they've earned to access chambers, where they can battle foes in many different levels of combat. This can be done solo or in collaboration with other players. Rather than coordinating with in-game friends, players can see next to each chamber how many players are currently lobbying up. The closest comparison in Pokémon GO is Remote Raiding, but it's more like if the entire world had a series of Gyms in which raids were always happening, unlimited by time or location. It would be fun to see a similar idea, where players can collaborative battle and catch Pokémon together at any time with no coordination, applied to Pokémon GO. This would perhaps be an interesting way to showcase older Legendaries that wouldn't have the draw of a new release but would still attract players to battle them with a bit less effort.
2. Special / Timed / Limited Research in Pokémon GO
Pokémon GO has Special, Timed, and Limited Research. Harry Potter: Wizards Unite has Special Assignments. The major difference is in quality: Pokémon GO's tasks are challenging but doable, while Wizards Unite's creates the feeling that players are employees of the game rather than… you know, enjoying the gameplay. Niantic would do well to learn from their more successful game and take what works about the task difficult in Pokémon GO and apply it to Harry Potter: Wizards Unite.
3. Narrative gameplay in Harry Potter: Wizards Unite
One thing that does work about the Special Assignments and overall gameplay in Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is how the game tells a story with its events. Pokémon GO sometimes delves into narrative with their Professor Willow character and the Team GO Rocket Special Research, but Harry Potter: Wizards Unite seeks to tell a story with twists and turns that players will theorize about the same way they did with J. K. Rowling's novels. Pokémon GO could learn from this as the game progresses, as narrative could be a great way to keep it fresh. The world of the main series games has other villains outside of Team Rocket, which could be fun to see applied in Pokémon GO. In addition to that, Special Research that could lead to narrative battles against main series-characters like the Elite Four could also keep the game fresh.
4. Variety in Pokémon GO
Finally, the variety of gameplay in Pokémon GO is something that Harry Potter: Wizards Unite would do well to mirror. While Wizards Unite will mostly have players doing Wizarding Challenges, returning Foundables, and completing Assignments, Pokémon GO features far more to do. You can Shiny hunt, farm for good IV Pokémon, battle PVP against friends, enter the GO Battle League, take on Team GO Rocket along with the Leaders and Giovanni, raid, work toward controlling Gyms, and much more. New elements are added to Pokémon GO all the time, with GO Battle League, Remote Raiding, and the new Buddy system all added in 2020. Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is on the right track with the 2020 addition of the Knight Bus. The more variety they add to the game, the more players will find themselves having an immersive, diverse experience with options, as with Pokémon GO.