EA once canceled an MMO based on Harry Potter because they mistakenly thought the IP wouldn’t last longer than one or two years. The revelation came from ex-EA Director of Product Marketing Kim Salzer as she recorded an interview in her current role as fractional Chief Marketing Officer at Original Gamer Life.
The Harry Potter MMO had managed to get past the prototyping stage and into a playable beta that the company was actively testing with young players before it was canceled. When asked about games that “she knew was gonna be really cool” but that was later canned or shelved indefinitely, Salzer explained more:
You know sometimes I just don’t know where to start, 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 an online massively multiplayer game for Harry Potter. We did all the research. We had the beta built out. It was a combination offline/online experience where we would actually mail stuff to the kids like prizes and ribbons and stuff like that. Thoroughly researched, very confident in the success of this. But it was killed, for lack of a better term, because EA was going through some changes at that time and they just didn’t know or believe enough that that IP would have a shelf life longer than a year or two.
It was pretty crazy to look back at and there had been a lot of work done. And it was a fun one too because we were doing research with kids and we didn’t get to do that very often back then in gaming, right. And that was really just a fun one to do.
Admittedly the hype for the franchise grew stronger with each book that was released and was not as rabid in 1997 as it was in later years, but with hindsight it seems like an incredible conclusion to reach for canceling the game. EA did later go on to publish all of the Harry Potter movie tie-in games, starting with Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in 2001 and concluding with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 in 2011. At least, the franchise will continue onwards in the video game world with the upcoming release of Hogwarts Legacy in 2022, this time published by Warner Bros. Games.