J.K. Rowling is to revive Harry Potter for a virtual reality spellbook which will be Sony’s latest weapon against Microsoft in the computer games console battle.
The Book of Spells game features dozens of new spells and puzzles which appear to come to life on screen when accessed through the Wonderbook, an “augmented reality” addition to the Sony PlayStation 3.
Players use a Sony Move Controller which appears on the screen as a wand attachment to bring the book to life. Gamers can learn “spells” as if they were at Hogwarts School with dragons and fire appearing to emerge from the book.
“This is the closest a Muggle can come to a real spellbook,” said Rowling, who created new Potter content for the game. “I’ve loved working with Sony’s creative team to bring my spells, and some of the history behind them, to life. This is an extraordinary device that offers a reading experience like no other.”
Rowling had been working with the Sony Computer Entertainment team in secret for months and the results were unveiled at the E3 games conference in Los Angeles. The Book of Spells is expected in stores at Christmas, selling for around £30.
Sony, competing against upgrades to Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Nintendo’s Wii U consoles, is relying on the Wonderbook to retain gamers’ interest in the PlayStation 3 whilst its successor is being developed.
Sales of computer games have slumped in the US, down 42 per cent year-on-year in April and Sony’s investors have expressed concern at the competition that the technology giant faces from Samsung and Apple.
Although Rowling has announced her first post-Potter novel, a non-fantasy story called The Casual Vacancy, she continues to explore the Potter universe. The author announced on the revamped Pottermore website that she is working on an encyclopaedia of the Harry Potter world.
Microsoft used E3 to unveil the Xbox SmartGlass, a service to allow tablet computers and smartphones to communicate with its video games consoles. It allows users to control games on touchscreen devices and will also enhance television programmes and films streamed through the Xbox.Reuse content