Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery has been putting players at the heart of their own wizarding world story for six whole years now! In celebration of the game’s anniversary on 25th April, join us for a chat with the developers behind the game as they explain how they’re keeping the magic going strong, even beyond Hogwarts.

Kevin Bayne, Development Director, Kimberly Hamilton, Narrative Director and Andreas Theodorou, Studio Art Director have become bona fide Hogwarts experts during the course of creating this beloved Harry Potter mobile game.

On the title’s 6th anniversary, we spoke with the team on how far the game has come.


What was the inspiration for creating Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery originally, and how has that vision changed in the past 6 years?

Kevin: Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery was originally envisioned as a unique narrative experience that allowed a player to take the wizarding world on the go, while drawing inspiration from other popular products at the time.

However, as the team poured more into the game, it began to evolve. As fans of Harry Potter ourselves, we couldn’t help but add in more and more of the things we loved from the books and films. The game takes our players on a journey that lets them experience life at Hogwarts, and interact with things like Magical Creatures and Quidditch, while also building friendships and romances, competing against rivals, learning more about their favourite professors, and experiencing a rich narrative that’s really unique for a mobile game.


When I first joined the project years ago, the plan was to never leave Hogwarts. With a linear main quest line, we began to realise that we had an opportunity to expand beyond that vision and offer players an experience they never had before. It has been incredibly exciting and rewarding to delve into what life is like in the broader wizarding world, and what it could be like to graduate from Hogwarts and continue your journey beyond.

It would be a fun conversation with my past self explaining how our players are out exploring the greater wizarding world and starting their journey as an adult. It’s pretty incredible where this game has grown to and we’re excited for everyone to see what we have on the horizon.


How did you choose the direction for the Hogwarts Mystery’s story, and how has it evolved from your initial vision?

Kim: I joined the team five months after the game’s worldwide launch, so there was already a great story foundation in place to build upon. Six years later, it’s hard to pick one narrative evolution because there have been so many! Quidditch introduced a whole new style of gameplay and story with three original characters Skye, Orion, and Murphy, who are close to my heart.

Romance has really blossomed in the game, beginning with the Celestial Ball which had been inspired by the canonical Yule Ball that Harry, Hermione, and Ron had attended. Now romance quests are among our fan favourites, and our dating feature that extends from Hogwarts to Beyond presents another unique way to build meaningful relationships with original characters.


And perhaps there’s been no bigger story step forward than our Beyond Hogwarts expansion that launched in July of last year. It’s the ultimate way we can narratively reward our loyal longtime players, by extending their journey beyond school and giving them an opportunity to apply all of the magical skills and knowledge they acquired during their years of playing Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery.

Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery has a great mix of both canon characters and original characters exclusive to the game. How do you create characters that fit so well into the wizarding world?

Andreas: The characters are so fleshed out by our writers, that by the time we start concepting – ideas are already pouring out! Anyone from any department can contribute to those ideas, which are then digested by the concept artists. They will also reference existing canon characters, analyse how their aesthetics reflect their persona, and apply similar rhythms to our designs. During that process we create multiple versions, with each one emphasizing a different side of the personality and backstory. We then circle back with the narrative team for a selection and final touches.


For canon characters specifically, we do take the book descriptions into account as well as the films. Our goal is to design them in a way that feels true to the visual style we’ve created for Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery while ensuring that they look and feel like the characters fans have created in their minds (because we’re fans too). Likewise for our original characters, we reference existing Harry Potter media a lot to ensure they feel like someone who could exist in the wizarding world.

Were there any specific fan reactions to in-game features, storylines or characters that most surprised you?

Kim: It was the fan response to the death of an original character in Year Six that most surprised me and has stayed with me. It was important to us narratively that the game follows a similar emotional trajectory to the books, so we knew there were times when the story would take dark turns. This fate was originally planned for a different NPC, but when I pitched this character to the team instead, there was such a gasp in the room that we knew we had to explore it.


The planning began about a year in advance of when the chapter would drop, and it required support from all departments, not just in the narrative and visual storytelling but in masking the data so that players would be truly surprised. What we couldn’t have known was that when this chapter was released in early 2020, that it would be a scary time in the world.

I remember being concerned that players who look to Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery as a welcome reprieve from their day would be finding heartbreak instead, and an ongoing storyline that had the remaining characters dealing with their grief in a very real way for quite some time. But while the shock of the character’s death did hit our players hard, what was remarkable to me was the positive response and player feedback we received about our handling of the grief in the story and how it even helped some players through their own emotions at the time.

The beautiful fan art and tributes from players that we still receive for this character four years later move me still, and those of us on the game who worked on this story often talk about its ability to reach our players emotionally as one of our proudest accomplishments as a team.


Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery looks so unique, while also being really authentic to Harry Potter. How did you establish the art style for the game - and how has it evolved since 2018?

Andreas: We knew that with this game, story is king. The stories would be complex, pushing the envelope of current narrative mobile games. The art style needed to support that, and not hold us back from a cinematic experience. That helped us identify key elements such as expressive faces, rich environments and emotional lighting.

In addition, we wanted to stay true to the iconic locations and the actors that brought the wizarding world to the big screen. From there we explored a gamut of styles that allowed us to do all the above, and narrowed it down to one that we thought our fans would enjoy and would be technically feasible. We’ve maintained consistency with that style for the last six years, as we didn’t want to have discrepancies in the game, but have gradually improved the fidelity of the visuals with better tools and practices.


What were some of your favourite creative decisions you’ve had to make while developing this game?

Kevin: One of my favourite creative decisions I’ve gotten to make involved helping the team decide how to work in an easter egg as we were designing a new Magical Creature (I can’t tell you which – I don’t want to spoil it!). The team works very hard to ensure that all the details for each creature are following the canon designs and details already in place, but there are times where we get to flex our creative muscles and put our own spin on different aspects of how they look or animate. That’s an incredibly fun and rewarding part of working within the wizarding world.


What are some of the biggest challenges working on a game like this?

Andreas: The sheer scale of our content! So much content! We have created hundreds and hundreds of locations and characters, and there are no signs of slowing down. Our stories continue to expand the game’s lore, and it’s what keeps me excited to work on this title after so many years.

Beyond Hogwarts alone launched with over 20 new and updated characters, plus over 15 new environments – and has expanded further since. We’ll be releasing Volume 1 Chapter 20 soon, and can’t wait to share more about what’s coming next!


What are some of the funniest work chats you’ve had behind-the-scenes? Maybe trying to design the perfect Puffskein or figure out the logistics of a certain spell?

Kevin: “In-game Bug Report” discussions can lead to some of the funniest chats among the team, honestly. If you’re not following along in real-time, you can come back to a conversation that may describe something quite funny or absurd without the context to explain the statement. “Characters heads are missing”, “Unicorn Missing Horn or is this a horse?”, “Scene missing magic. Did someone move the magic?”, “Characters flying backwards during Quidditch”.

While we take every report seriously, you have to laugh at the kind of out-of-context discussion topics they can lead to in a world like Harry Potter.


What has the release of “Beyond Hogwarts” last year meant for the game’s story and overall direction, and where do you hope to go next?

Kim: Creating the Beyond Hogwarts expansion was like launching a new game within an existing one! We loved having the constructs of Hogwarts to craft stories around, but we couldn’t keep our players in school forever. So it was a fun challenge to work together across departments, and with our Harry Potter brand partners, to invent an incredible future for the player’s character – with a story that introduces new original characters and environments, and can exist within the boundaries of the wizarding world while running parallel to the events In Harry’s own timeline.


It’s been gratifying to see how Volume One of Beyond Hogwarts has been embraced by our Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery community. We’re excited to continue their journey soon with the launch of Volume Two, when we’ll really expand their world with mysteries to solve in iconic locations around the globe – where we’re sure to see some familiar faces and places from canon.

Andreas: Beyond Hogwarts was the most thrilling and stressful feature we’ve added to the game since it launched in 2018! It was something we had debated doing for years, and we were fortunate enough to be in the position that it made sense to us and our story to make it a reality. The Art team was excited to read the “where are they now” descriptions for each of our beloved characters and begin to reimagine them as adults. We made the decision not to age their faces significantly, as we wanted to ensure recognisability and for our players to maintain their emotional connection to them... instead opting to tell their evolved story through outfits and hairstyles.


Beyond Hogwarts was also a great opportunity to conceptualize what the wizarding world, but also the muggle world, looked like outside of Scotland (where Hogwarts and much of our existing in-game world exist). We wanted to emphasize the difference of these two realities, while understanding that they both contribute to the unique aesthetic of the Harry Potter universe.

So there you have it! And these incredible numbers speak for themselves.


If you’re old enough, visit the Hogwarts Mystery social channels (on Twitter, IG and Facebook) to stay up to date with the game.