Last week, Niantic announced an abrupt end of Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. They will remove it from app stores in December 2021 and then render it entirely unplayable by in January 2022. After years of gameplay and both time and money invested, players of this game had three months left to enjoy their efforts. As someone who both reports on and enjoys Pokémon GO and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, I think there is something that players of Pokémon GO can learn from how Niantic is handling this situation.
Will Pokémon GO end like Harry Potter: Wizards Unite?
First, before we come to any conclusions about lessons to take away, it must be understood that Pokémon GO is a much more successful game than Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. Harry Potter: Wizards Unite underperformed from the start, whereas Pokémon GO, despite the perception that 2016's "summer of Pokémon GO" was the peak of the game, has actually become more popular and more of a cash cow as the years have gone on.
Niantic has also affirmed as recently as last month in their "Dev Diaries" series that Pokémon GO is designed to be a "forever game" that families play through the generations. I believe that that is the intention, I believe that that has the potential to happen, and I believe that even if it doesn't happen, we are many years off from when Pokémon GO is even in a situation close to as dire as Harry Potter: Wizards Unite at its peak.
However, we now know what it looks like when a game like this is ending, and Niantic and Nintendo are businesses, after all. If Pokémon GO becomes a game that no longer generates money, this is a reality that could come to pass. Here's what may happen in that situation.
What will happen if Pokémon GO does end?
All we can do to imagine this scenario is to draw on what we know about Pokémon GO and what we know about how Niantic handled the end of Harry Potter: Wizards Unite.
- Pokémon HOME exists: This seems to be what GO has that HPWU does not. This is a way to take what we've done in one game and pass it off into another… and the games that your Pokémon would be transferred into aren't games that reply on continued mobile existence. Your Pokémon can live here forever.
- Warning: There will be next to none. A three-month warning for a lifestyle game like this is, I feel, egregious. We should be aware of Niantic's handling of this ending when we take into account the time, money, and effort we spend on Pokémon GO. I hate to say it because I love the game, but that is the reality.
- Playability: Niantic at least had the foresight to plan separate end dates for HPWU. The reality is, though, that the ending is final. You won't be able to open your game and appreciate the work you've done. The game will be unplayable. Thankfully, as mentioned above, there is a way for Pokémon to migrate… though imagine the server traffic.
All of that said, one thing to also consider is partners. Nintendo and The Pokémon Company are Niantic's partners in Pokémon GO. WB Games and Portkey Games are Niantic's partners in Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. For all we know, things could work out differently for GO because of this. I would be remiss, though, as someone who has this platform not to share the above information, though.