Harry Potter: Quidditch Champions Sounds Like a Bad Idea

Harry Potter: Quidditch Champions is looking to provide the ultimate competitive Quidditch experience, but is that really worth getting excited about?

Quidditch Champions
Photo: Portkey Games

In case you missed it, Portkey Games recently announced a new Quidditch video game called Harry Potter: Quidditch Champions. Developed by Unbroken Studios, it promises to offer “a fast-paced, competitive multiplayer game featuring the world’s most iconic magical sport.” We don’t know much else about the game beyond the info available on its FAQ page, though that should change after the game’s closed test happens this weekend.

This decision isn’t a surprise. Between Hogwarts Legacy‘s success and the recently announced Harry Potter HBO series, it’s clear that WB has renewed its interest in finding new ways to shake a little more money out of the Harry Potter franchise. Actually, quite a few people were sad to learn there was no Quidditch minigame in Hogwarts Legacy, and it now certainly seems like Portkey just felt like Quidditch was worthy of a standalone gaming experience.

However, I’m not convinced Quidditch is worthy of such an experience. In fact, much of what we know about Quidditch Champions seems like a bad idea.

For those who don’t remember (or never knew), there was actually another standalone Quidditch video game released way back in 2003 called Harry Potter: Quidditch World Cup. Modeled after NBA Street and other arcade-like sports games of that era, Quidditch World Cup offered a very simple take on the entire Quidditch concept. Much of the game saw you control the Chasers, who often used magical moves to move the Quaffle across the field and score goals. After pulling off enough combos and scoring enough points, you could unlock the Snitch minigame which would often actually determine the winner.

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Quidditch World Cup was…fine. It was fun in its own little ways and it had a good sense of style. However, its greatest strength was its own existence. There weren’t a ton of Harry Potter games out at that time, and none of those games even tried to really make Quidditch work as more than a brief distraction. If you were a young fan at that time, Quidditch World Cup was (at worst) a very fun rental. It’s still considered one of the best Harry Potter games of its era, though that says more about the competition.

However, Quidditch World Cup slammed into the same realization many fans must face: Quidditch is a plot device and not a sport. Unlike games like NFL Blitz or NBA Street which simplified existing sports down to their most entertaining core components, Quidditch World Cup had to try to expand upon Quidditch to try to make it into an interactive experience. In doing so, it revealed all of Quidditch’s limits as even a fictional sport. It turns out that Quidditch really is all about catching the Snitch, and trying to craft a scenario where that isn’t the case only further exposes the shallowness of the rest of the experience.

That’s the other big problem with Quidditch Champions. Quidditch World Cup got a pass for being a simple little game aimed at young fans, but Quidditch Champions is trying to offer a competitive online experience. There are currently no plans for Quidditch Champions to even offer an offline option. That means that it will actually feature fewer modes of play than Quidditch World Cup did, and Quidditch World Cup didn’t exactly have a lot of depth working in its favor in the first place.

It really sounds like Quidditch Champions intends to offer a kind of Rocket League experience. That sounds like a good idea on paper, but not only does Rocket League offer fantastic offline options, but it’s a genuinely deep game. You can enjoy the game without ever becoming an expert at it, but there is still something there to become an expert at. Rocket League may not be a real sport, but it was fundamentally constructed with competitive play between actual players in mind. Quidditch was designed to give Harry Potter more things to do.

Look, opinions are obviously running hot these days concerning everything Harry Potter related. Some find themselves unable to enjoy the series in quite the same way thanks to J.K. Rowling’s transphobic views and statements, and some are willing to go out of their way to defend and champion the franchise in support of those same statements. It’s a miserable atmosphere, and WB is more than willing to sneak some cash-ins into it and hope everyone will be too busy arguing to both to judge the things on their own merit (or lack thereof).

But unless Quidditch Champions makes serious changes to the game of Quidditch (which is unlikely given the aforementioned cash-in period we’re in), then maybe we can at least all agree that a competitive online-only Quidditch game comes across as a pretty weak idea. Don’t just take my word for it, though. Love her or loathe her, Rowling herself once summed up the problem with Quidditch as such:

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“To be honest with you, Quidditch matches have been the bane of my life in the Harry Potter books. They are necessary in that people expect Harry to play Quidditch, but there is a limit to how many ways you can have them play Quidditch together and for something new to happen.”