As I mentioned in my post about Sony’s E3 press conference, WonderBook was one of the highlights of E3 for me. I know that some questioned whether E3 was the right place for such a family-oriented announcement. Also, I was a little disappointed JK Rowling wasn’t there in person to talk about her new book on the peripheral, Harry Potter’s Book of Spells. But beyond these minor quibbles WonderBook promises to inject some new life into Sony’s PS3 Move catalog.
I caught up with Russell Harding, creative director on WonderBook and the Book of Spells title, to find out more about the new product and why they chose E3, rather than the New York Toy Fair to make their announcement. As you can see in the video, he outlined how they were keen to get the new accessory in front of the biggest videogame audience possible and E3 was a good fit for that.
He talked us through how the Book of Spells was developed and drew on previous experience with Eye Pet — the augmented reality virtual pet for the PS3 Eye and Move combo. My kids really enjoyed Eye Pet and I’ll be interested to see how they take to WonderBook.
While reading round the subject for this post, I was surprised to see that there are already other Harry Potter Book of Spells titles available. For instance, there is an electronic game from Tiger called Harry Potter Book of Spells that promises a “personalized electronic encyclopedia on book one in the series. Find complete biographical and background information when you highlight a main character, creature, item or location featured in the book.” Certainly sounds like there may be some overlap.
I asked Harding about the level of original content in the game and he was reassuring. In particular there are a series of original poems written by R K Rowling that are won at the end of each level. There is also a tie in to the Pottermore online website, although I’m waiting for more details on how this works currently. Provided the level of involvement from the author continues to be high throughout, it sounds like this will be a must buy for Potter fans.
For me the real winner here is the content. Not only have they managed to hook in a big name to kick off the product, but the quality and ingenuity of how that content is presented is excellent. They key will be whether Sony can continue to provide a stream of equally high quality (and profile) titles for the WonderBook once it launches later this year.
Book of Spells is available to pre-order from Amazon for $39.99.