It’s an exciting time to for fans of augmented reality and mobile games. 5G networks are in development right now, with worldwide commercial launch expected in 2020. However, certain areas will receive access to 5G networks sooner, and with that, potentially exclusive 5G features for Harry Potter: Wizards Unite.
Assuming, of course, you buy a new phone with 5G capability.
Anyway, here’s what we know so far about the possibility of Wizards Unite and 5G.
Back in February, we reported on an interview from LA Times with Kevin Tsujihara, then chairman and CEO of Warner Bros. When talking about AT&T’s new ownership of Warner Bros., Tsujihara said,
You look at something like 5G. At first you think, ‘Oh, that doesn’t matter for a studio.’ It actually could have a significant impact on our ability to deliver content. Another thing that’s really exciting is the world of VR and AR. I don’t think we’ve figured out exactly what that is going to be, but 5G is going to turbocharge the ability to deliver that experience.
LA Times followed up by asking what technology projects are currently in the works. Tsujihara gave this exciting response:
The one that’s the closest is this “Harry Potter: Wizards Unite” [augmented reality] video game project coming out this summer from Niantic, the maker of “Pokemon Go.” That’s a world where, clearly, 5G and faster connectivity with a mobile device is going to make that game better.
At the time, I focused on the possibility of a summer release for Wizards Unite. However, now let’s talk about 5G in Wizards Unite!
At a press conference earlier today, SK Telecom, South Korea’s largest wireless telecommunications operator, shared details about their 5G network in South Korea, their new 5G service plans for customers, and their exclusive mobile game options… Like Wizards Unite.
Earlier this year, Niantic announced a partnership with SK Telecom, along with other tech companies. However, the exact details of this partnership were unknown before now. The two companies had already come together in 2017 to create sponsored PokéStops, but this 2019 agreement is something else entirely.
Only witches and wizards who subscribe to SK Telecom’s 5G services will be able to play Wizards Unite when it first comes out in South Korea. I couldn’t find a timeframe for exclusivity, but other interested players will have to wait before the game is available on more devices and on other networks.
However, this agreement is limited to South Korea. While 5G is the future of AR gaming, it’s not widespread enough for an AR game to use exclusively. However, it’s possible that Wizards Unite will include some optional features that only work with 5G.
What sort of Wizards Unite features could be exclusive to 5G?
Last year, Niantic released a cool video for Codename: Neon, a prototype game that looks more than a little like casting spells at other people.
The video itself only mentions the phones used: iPhone 8 and Google Pixel 2. The video doesn’t say if the players are using WIFI, LTE, or something else.
However, in February of this year, John Hanke talked about Codename: Neon in relation to 5G.
We’re really pushing the boundaries of what we can do on today’s networks. We need 5G to deliver the kinds of experiences that we are imagining.
It’s unclear from this statement if Hanke means that Codename: Neon is the limit of what can be done using LTE, or if Codename: Neon requires something faster.
According to Venture Beat, Hanke recently clarified that Codename: Neon and Codename: Tonehenge will require a 5G network.
Regardless of what the immediate future holds, Hanke is clearly excited about the long-term potential of 5G capabilities in AR gaming.
We’re actually really excited about 5G.
This could mean Wizards Unite will include optional features–like interactive spellcasting between players–exclusive to 5G players.
Only time will tell!
What are your thoughts on 5G?