Is that a manticore at the McHenry Mansion? A hippogriff outside IHOP? A basilisk inside Bed Bath & Beyond?
Harry Potter fans could be spotting such fantastic beasts around Modesto sometime next year when the makers of the augmented-reality game "Pokemon Go" release "Harry Potter: Wizards Unite."
Game company Niantic announced Wednesday that it has partnered with Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and the development team of WB Games San Francisco to bring the beloved boy wizard's world to our Muggle environs.
"Players that have been dreaming of becoming real life Wizards will finally get the chance to experience J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World," Niantic said on its website. "Players will learn spells, explore their real world neighborhoods and cities to discover & fight legendary beasts and team up with others to take down powerful enemies."
An official site for the game already exists at harrypotterwizardsunite.com.
"Our goal is to leverage technology to create real-world experiences that help people to discover the wonderful, and often magical parts of the world around them," Niantic founder and CEO John Hanke said in a statement.
Pokemon Go launched in July 2017 and was all the rage that summer. Users play the game by wandering neighborhoods and other public places, trying to discover geo-located Pokemon characters, which show up as if in the real world on their smartphone cameras, The Bee reported.
"Days after its release, Pokemon Go has become a fast-moving phenomenon, drawing flash mob-type crowds searching neighborhoods, parks and urban streets for imaginary characters on their smartphones," the Bee story said. "... Players sometimes congregate at local landmarks to join teams and compete with one another."
Forbes.com reported this week that some serious Pokemon Go fans have expressed concern about the Potter release. "Fans are worried that with Pokemon Go already seemingly way behind on updates and basic functionality, and more or less still in beta, that Niantic will abandon them to work on this new Harry Potter game."
Pottermore, the digital publishing, e-commerce, entertainment and news company from Potter series author Rowling, also trumpeted the news of the AR game: "Who knows who you’ll spot in your local park? You’ll also be able to cast spells, discover mysterious artifacts, and build up your very own, illustrious wizarding career. Yep, we can definitely get on board with this."