Pottermore is to unveil a new design for the Harry Potter virtual world in the summer as it seeks to broaden both the user base and its publishing business. The company has also now formally launched a separate offshoot CreateMore that has been working with established brands such as the Beano and Guinness World Records over their digital strategies.
Pottermore is also ratcheting up its range of new products, with the launch later this year of a number of apps, and the follow-up with Sony to last year’s PlayStation3’s Wonderbook game The Book of Spells, titled The Book of Potions.
The new version of the virtual world will enable visitors to cast spells, take part in wizard duals, and be sorted into houses before registering on the site and entering Pottermore.
Once inside the virtual experience, the new iteration of the site will enable users to visit the sections dedicated to each title in non-sequential order, meaning that users will be able to enjoy the chapters they want to in whatever order they desire. The new version will also feature basic information for the non-Harry Potter fan, such as “Who is Harry Potter?”.
Charlie Redmayne, chief executive of Pottermore, said the site was a “fantastic” environment for dedicated fans of the books, but was harder to engage with for casual fans or for users who had not been introduced to Harry Potter through the books. “As it stands, if you don’t know the books you won’t get much out of it. What we want to do is open it out for those people who haven’t read the books, or who haven’t seen the films, but perhaps come to it via the Lego, or the Harry Potter computer games.”
The new site will also more obviously delineate between the user journey and the Harry Potter story, enabling registered visitors to interact with their houses, or visit specific areas such as Diagon Alley without becoming engaged with the story.
Pottermore was launched a year ago and has since attracted 45 million unique users, who have generated more than five billion page impressions and cast, or brewed, 180 million spells and potions.
Redmayne said the business was also now in a position to “build out” its publishing proposition, having established a presence with Pottermore, on the Sony Wonderbook platform, and on PlayStation Home, Sony’s 3D network for gamers. “This to me is ultimately a publishing business. We are beginning to see what Pottermore is: it was never just a website.” Redmayne highlighted the success of The Book of Spells, more than one million units of which were sold over Christmas 2012. “It is a book, but we didn’t publish it as a book. It is a good example of what publishers need to do: think about all the ways of publishing a piece of content.”
The site also sells the Harry Potter e-books and digital audiobooks. The Pottermore e-book store sold £3m-worth of Harry Potter e-books in its first month, with Redmayne indicating that sales now run at consistent levels. “That first month obviously had a lot of pent up demand in it so we are not running at that figure now—but it is still a very significant figure each month,” he said.
Redmayne said the launch of its gifting service had bumped sales, and that he was now looking to Russia and China for e-book launches.