Back before Harry Potter was a franchise massive enough for its own theme parks — along with a spinoff film series and an upcoming open-world game — Electronic Arts almost made a MMO.
The canceled project was in the works between 2000 and 2003, before the release of the sixth book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, when Kim Salzer served as director of product marketing at EA. Salzer, now the chief marketing officer at a new firm called Original Gamer Life, mentioned the game for the first time in a recent Twitch stream that the company hosted.
“Sometimes, I just don’t know where to start,” said Salzer, when asked about which project she was saddest to see die on the vine during her time in the games industry. “But 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 a online massively multiplayer game for Harry Potter.”
Salzer went on to describe the project, saying that the development team had already built a beta and done all the research required. EA had even planned to mail prizes and ribbons to players in what Salzer called a “combination offline/online experience.”
The project was ultimately canceled. “EA was going through some changes at that time,” said Salzer, “and they just didn’t know, or believe enough, that that IP would have a shelf life longer than a year or two.”
While Salzer didn’t give an exact year in her interview, her tenure at EA coincided with the releases of the first two Harry Potter films — it was a time when the Harry Potter series was beginning to transcend the original books. EA held the Harry Potter video game rights from 2000 to 2011, and published more than 10 titles during that window, but the MMO was not to be.
Warner Bros. now controls the entirety of the Wizarding World franchise that grew out of Harry Potter, including the video game rights through its Portkey Games label. Avalanche Software’s Hogwarts Legacy is being made under that label for a planned release in 2022. The game has been scrutinized since its announcement in 2020 due to series creator J.K. Rowling’s recent history of transphobic remarks.
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