Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery mobile game criticised as grab for cash

It took two years to develop Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery and there was a palpable excitement in the air of the internet as it was released. People were excited at the prospect of a magical version of Pokemon Go. This fandom will take anything Harry Potter themed with another level of excitement. However, the joy of getting your very own Hogwarts letter has been tainted by the see-through grab for cash flaunted in this game.

It is a freemium game, which means it is free to play, at first. You get to enjoy the magic of Hogwarts, until you run out of energy, which can be replaced by buying gems with your hard-earned cash. Most people will probably bow out at the Devil Snare, which is a big stumbling block where you either have to wait in the game for a long time or give in and open your wallet.

It does not feel magical to wait hours between each task to avoid paying. Indeed, the very format is designed to infuriate people. They rely on you getting so frustrated you relent and end up drip-feeding them small amounts of cash. We live in a post-Emoji Movie world where companies have realised that people hate shameless corporate greed but will still pay for it when it is dressed up in bright, appealing brands.

This isn’t the first game to exploit this genre. However, even the archetypal version, Candy Crush, does it better, since it is easy to play without paying. Executives at the developers Jam City definitely debated a name like Harry Potter Saga to try for shameless honesty.

Freemium games mean that people are weirdly reluctant to pay for genuinely rich and deep mobile gaming experiences. Why pay 79p (sixty times less than a console game) for a beautiful mobile game like Badland when you can get a puzzle game for ‘free’. Even consoles are getting in the action. Mario Kart 8 forced you to pay for extra characters and two whole cups, before they relented and released a deluxe version that gave you everything.

Harry Potter makes no sense as a freemium game. It has a devoted worldwide fanbase that would be willing to pay the upfront cost of a game. Deliberately pulling people out from the realism of the world undermines the magical feeling you are supposed to get from it.

The game has been praised for a number of positive features. You get to customise your character with different options, the storyline is interesting, the graphics charming and big names from the original cast make a comeback. However, what is the point of these nice touches if the game relies on frustrating you? Why play when you have to pay to get past a checkpoint rather than earn it through skill?
Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery mobile game criticised as grab for cash Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery mobile game criticised as grab for cash Reviewed by Ciaran McCormick on 22:17 Rating: 5

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