Bernard Kim, president of publishing at Zynga, said in an interview with GamesBeat that the game is in limited testing now in the Philippines, and it will launch after Zynga evaluates the feedback from users. (Kim will be a speaker at our GamesBeat Summit 2020 event on April 28-April 29 in Los Angeles).
“We think this appeals to everybody,” Kim said. “You can go as deep as you want in the franchise or you can have short bites of gameplay. It’s very similar how fans can go really really deep into the stories in the books or just enjoy the movies.”
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment (a division of Harry Potter license owner Warner Bros.) has licensed Harry Potter to Zynga in this specific game category, and the title will be published under the Portkey Games label.
“This is the first time there’s going to be a match-3 Harry Potter game in the marketplace,” Kim said. “We decided to embark on this partnership with Warner Brothers and Portkey Games because of our company’s love of the franchise. We love the characters, we love the stories, we love the universe that J.K. Rowling created. Our employee base is relatively young and they grew up with these stories on the big screen.”
Kim believes that Harry Potter fans love quizzes, brain teasers, and other puzzle-inspired play, and that’s why he things folks of all ages will be interested in Harry Potter: Puzzles & Spells.
Zynga’s strategy is to create “forever franchises,” or those that generate $100 million a year and last more than five years. Kim said, “This aligns with our idea of creating forever franchises. We believe this franchise is going to be around for multiple years ahead.”
But the competition won’t be a walk in the park. The game will coexist in the mobile market alongside Niantic’s Harry Potter: Wizards Unite (a walking game) and Jam City’s Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery (a Wizarding school game). In years past, console and PC makers only had to worry about making one game. But in mobile, the market is so vast that it’s common for IP holders to grant licenses to multiple companies, giving them specific genres to target or time windows to hit. So it’s important to capture the feel of the franchise.
“One of the things that we’re really proud of is these really fantastic mischievous moments a chocolate frog jumping out of your screen,” Kim said.
As for the mobile game industry, Kim said, “There’s a lot of high-quality games in the marketplace. A differentiator like a fantastic intellectual property and a great publishing platform and maybe the right timing and a little bit of luck could potentially create our next great franchise.”
Kim said he’s part of the Slytherin house, while his wife is part of Griffindor.
“This matches our personalities, and so what’s cool is that there will be options for players to form clubs and socialize,” Kim said.
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