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Image courtesy of Niantic/WB Games

Take the location-based engine and augmented reality smarts that produced Pokémon Go, mix in the popularity of Harry Potter and you have a guaranteed hit, right? That's the logic behind Niantic's recently released Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, but early results suggests the new game may have a tough time living up to expectations.

By the numbers: It's down to No. 73 on App Annie's chart of top-grossing iOS apps, far below Pokémon Go at No. 15 and also below a different Harry Potter title from Jam City.

  • Apple's own chart has it at No. 52, ahead of the other Harry Potter game, but well below Pokémon Go at No. 7.
  • The app has more than 5 million downloads on the Google Play store, but isn't featured at all in its chart of top-grossing games.

Why it matters: Niantic's goal is to have a platform powering a range of homegrown and third-party-developed titles using its engine. To reach its long-term goals it would ideally like to show it can generate and sustain multiple fan bases simultaneously. It did that to a degree by maintaining its first game, Ingress, even while Pokémon Go took off.

Yes, but: Almost anything will look lackluster compared to Pokémon Go, which was an overnight smash. Even if Wizards Unite isn't an immediate viral hit, it can still be a lucrative game, but it will have to show steady growth over time.

  • And, as long as Niantic can keep people using its platform (in any incarnation), it will build on its market-leading — and proprietary — real-world AR platform.

What they're saying: Venture capitalist Megan Quinn, whose firm Spark Capital is an investor in Niantic, says the Harry Potter game needn't match Pokemon's early success.

  • "Pokémon Go wasn’t our measuring stick for the game. ... We’re enthusiastic about the AR-real world platform that Niantic is building."

The big picture: Niantic says it has a multiyear storyline for Wizards Unite and a number of marketing efforts, including promotional tie-ins with AT&T and mall giant Simon plus a live event in Indianapolis over Labor Day.

Go deeper: Pokémon Go ups its augmented reality game

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - Sports

The potential GOAT of chess faces intriguing challenger

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The World Chess Championship between Norway's Magnus Carlsen and Russia's Ian Nepomniachtchi began on Friday, 1,094 days after Carlsen won his fourth consecutive title.

Why it matters: During the long, COVID-fueled layoff, chess entered a new era, and with the championship finally here, the age-old game is ready for its close-up.

Department of Interior proposes raising cost of drilling on public lands

A horizontal drilling rig and a pump jack sit on federal land in Lea County, New Mexico. Photo: Callaghan O'Hare/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Oil and gas companies should pay more to drill on federal lands and waters, the Department of the Interior argued in a report released Friday, saying that the current rates were "outdated."

Driving the news: The Department of Interior report said that the federal government's oil and gas leasing and permitting program "fails to provide a fair return to taxpayers, even before factoring in the resulting climate-related costs that must be borne by taxpayers."

5 hours ago - Health

U.S. to restrict air travel from 8 countries over new COVID variant concerns

A COVID-19 vaccine is administered. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The U.S. will impose new air travel restrictions in response to the Omicron variant, a new COVID strain first detected in South Africa, President Biden announced Friday.

The big picture: Air travel from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi will be restricted starting on Monday.