Harry Potter, Warner Brothers and free to play…what a combination. You have one of the most popular franchises that appeals to both children and adults. Then you have one of the biggest gaming companies in the world who are also famous for their high-priced in-app purchases. Finally you have the free to play model, an often horrid cash grab that puts unreasonable restrictions on gameplay to try and encourage the spending of money.
Put all those three together and what you have is Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery. A simply stunning piece of greed that shows just how out of touch these companies are.
Any good will the nice visuals and dream-like enjoyment of being a student at Hogwarts is completely lost when all you’re doing is tapping the screen, waiting for your energy to recharge or trying to dodge the massive restrictions that halt gameplay, sometimes mid-mission.
Just like most free to play games, Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery begins like an actual game. Sure it’s light on content but the chance to create your own character, attend classes, make friends and be part of the magical world is exciting. Then you reach the devil’s snare mission and bang, you see just what this game is all about.
Energy is what is used to complete tasks and here you must use it to escape the devil’s snare. Fill up each bar by using points of energy until you’re free. However this energy is limited and would you believe it? You won’t have enough to fully escape leaving you with two choices.
Wait out the timer to recharge your energy or pay real money. It’s such a hilarious analogy for how WB has treated the Harry Potter franchise and the free to play mobile market. Strangling the life out of a kid while demanding money for you to free him/her and what market in particular might react, worried that they need to save their character quickly? Kids, that’s who.
Disgustingly manipulative and this occurs within 30 minutes of the game. Not that it gets any better once you do progress past it. Almost every task/lesson or mission you undertake requires such a substantial amount of energy that you’ll rarely be able to pass them in one sitting.
All the added extras about levelling up attributes, decision making (very limited stuff) and role-playing mean nothing when this constant restriction stops you progressing in an instant. It’s not just the energy that is the problem either.
The game demands you wait a lengthy amount of time or for you to pay the premium currency to progress the main missions too. Simply put around every corner there is another thing looking to dip into your wallet and it makes an already content-light game feel even worse.
It’s up there as one of the most disgraceful free to play titles going because of the combination of super-restrictive gameplay and eye-wateringly high in-app purchases.
As mentioned above, gems are the premium currency and come in a number of packs that start at 99p for 25 and go up to £99.99 for 3,1250. Yes, that is a finite amount of gems for a penny short of £100.
These prices are free to play standard most of the time so no surprises here, however WB decided to really push their luck.
You can customise your character with unlockable outfits, haircuts and extras. Most are behind pay walls though, costing the in-game currency of coins or premium gems currency.
One amazing example of the insane greed of this game are the haircuts. A simple boy-band style sweep costs 400 gems. The cost of 400 gems? Well you have two options here! You can pay £9.99 for 275 and £4.99 for 130 giving you 405 gems for £14.98 or you can pay £19.99 for 575 gems and have a few left over.
So at its cheapest you could be paying nearly £15 for a haircut. Sure it’s an optional purchase but why is it so much? No sane person would spend their money on this so the only explanation is that WB are hoping to take advantage of children who care about how their characters look and may be trying to replicate how they themselves look.
We’re not done though. Let’s say you want to refill your energy so you can complete a task? You can pay 20 gems for 10 bits of energy. Now bear in mind it goes up to 25 so to get as close to full as possible you would need to pay 40 gems costing you £1.98 just to carry on playing! What makes that even worse is that many tasks or lessons can take upwards of 40+ bits of energy to complete!
Can you see why Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery is one of the worst games to come out on the free to play market? The whole ‘you don’t have to pay if you don’t want too’ argument doesn’t hold up here because the game is so restrictive and it is not particularly engaging or fun.
You’ll spend so much time waiting for energy to recharge just so you can tap the screen a few more times and pass an event. What’s the point? It didn’t have to be this way. It could have been a pay-up front game with cosmetics as in-app purchases. Instead greed wins out and the end result is a horrid game that serves as reminder that these game companies just won’t settle for having some of the money, they want all the money and have no interest in delivering quality products in return.
They should be ashamed of themselves.
Harry Potter - Hogwarts Mystery