Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery out now with not-so-magical microtransactions (Updated)
Update (04/25): Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery is now available on the Google Play Store, as an 89MB download. The developers do recommend playing via Wi-Fi, however, as the title periodically downloads data.
You’ll be undertaking a variety of quests and interacting with schoolmates as you explore Hogwarts years before Harry Potter arrives. In our original write-up below, we expressed a few concerns that the game could fall into the trap of becoming a pay-to-win experience. Based on our short time with the game so far (as well as social media impressions) and a resoundingly unfair sequence early on, it seems our fears have been well and truly realized.
The offending section (pictured above) has you trying to escape from an ivy-like entity, requiring you to perform several actions in a row to pull free. We started with a full energy bar and still couldn’t perform the required steps, with the game prompting us to purchase energy instead. Of course, energy requires gems, and if you don’t have enough gems (and you won’t have enough), you’ll be prompted to purchase gems with real-world cash.
It looks like it’ll take a colossal effort for acclaimed Pokémon Go developer Niantic to make its similarly-styled upcoming Harry Potter AR game worse than this.
Original article (03/01): Announced in December, role-playing game Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery will arrive later this spring on iOS and Android. In preparation of the game’s upcoming release, developer Jam City gave us a first look at what to expect in terms of gameplay.
The game puts you in the shoes of a prospective Hogwarts student, who gets a letter guaranteeing admittance into the magical school. You partake in the Sorting Hat festivities and can join any of the school’s four houses: Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw, and Hufflepuff.
Since Hogwarts is primarily a school, a good chunk of your time will be spent learning spells and potions. You can also partake in other activities, such as dueling with other students, exploring Hogwarts in greater detail, and befriending other students.
Along the way, you will meet known series characters Severus Snape, Albus Dumbledore, Hagrid, Professor McGonagall, and more. Hogwarts Mystery takes place several years before Harry Potter was born, so you will also encounter a younger Bill Weasley.
On paper, Hogwarts Mystery sounds like the game that Harry Potter fans have been wanting for years. My concern is with the free-to-play aspect of the game, which includes two in-game currency systems and an energy meter.
In other words, Hogwarts Mystery could eventually turn into a micro-transaction mess. Jam City does not have a sterling track record, seeing how this is the same studio that made games like Cookie Jam, Panda Pop, Family Guy: Another Freakin’ Mobile Game, Marvel Avengers Academy, and more. All of those games are free-to-play titles with in-app purchases that can be obnoxious, so I hope that Hogwarts Mystery does not end up the same way.