'Harry Potter: Wizards Unite' Has A Fix For Its Spell Energy Problem, But It Doesn't Go Far Enough

Harry Potter: Wizard Unite

Credit: Niantic/WB

It didn't take long, and that's encouraging. At launch, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite was unquestionably spell energy. The new game replaces Pokémon GO's Pokéballs with a new limiting factor that works much the same: you get it from points of interest, called inns in this game, and you spend it on encounters. But things were a little less manageable this time around. Not only did you tend to get less energy from each inn visit, there were fewer energy-rewarding places to go and more places to spend it. On top of that, a lower cap made it much more difficult to stock up without spending a good chunk of change, and the whole thing made the game feel nearly unplayable for people in less than ideal conditions. We're only a few days into launch, however, and we're already getting some changes. I noticed these when playing yesteday, and the developer made an announcement over on Reddit:

We’ve received great feedback from our beta and US and UK players about Spell Energy in Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. Thank you for your notes and thoughts here! We are making the following changes to the game:

  • The amount of Spell Energy given to players who first enter the game has been increased from 25 to 50

  • Increased the amount of Spell Energy you get from Inns and Greenhouses

  • Increased the amount of Spell Energy you get from Daily Assignments

    • From “To Collect an Ingredient or Portmanteau” from 5 to 10

This is good news for two reasons. First, on a basic level, access to more spell energy makes the game more playable. Second, and maybe even more important, is that it shows developers willing to move quickly to address community concerns, as well as an app that might be a little better geared to on-the-fly changes than Pokémon GO was at launch. So, on that level, it's nice to see,

And yet, I can't help but feel like it's not nearly enough. For starters, spell energy upon entering the game is basically a non-entity: you can burn that in a few minutes of play, and after that this change has no effect on gameplay after that. It's a similar problem for daily assignments: this is basically ten extra spell energy a day, which is more or less nothing in the grand scheme of things.

The inn change is the real big one, and it's helpful for a player like me. When I went out yesterday I found that the tea--which had previously been handing out 1 energy--was now handing out 3, which makes this game as easy to play as Pokémon GO currently is in my inn/Pokéstop-dense area.

But this doesn't do a whole lot of good for the player without an inn in their immediate vicinity, or with only one or two. While I understand that a core part of what makes Niantic's games special is their reliance on real-world points of interest, I was really hoping that we were going to get some structural changes that made gameplay a little less dependent on whether or not the company had approved a point of interest in your area. Blanketing the entire world in Pokéstops is a long-term goal, but it's not really feasible right now: a much better option would be to strike a balance between keeping these places special and loosening the game to the point where rural and suburban players could actually play.

Instead, we've got a spell energy system that's actually much more restrictive than Pokéballs ever were, and apparently, fewer approved points of interest to boot. This sits wrong. What I love about these games are the way they foster community, inclusivity, exercise and a new way to look at the world. But I can't help but feel like so much of that energy is wasted if the core functions of the game underline the structural inequality that already exists in the world. I want to augment my reality a little more than this.

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Harry Potter: Wizard Unite

Credit: Niantic/WB

It didn't take long, and that's encouraging. At launch, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite was unquestionably spell energy. The new game replaces Pokémon GO's Pokéballs with a new limiting factor that works much the same: you get it from points of interest, called inns in this game, and you spend it on encounters. But things were a little less manageable this time around. Not only did you tend to get less energy from each inn visit, there were fewer energy-rewarding places to go and more places to spend it. On top of that, a lower cap made it much more difficult to stock up without spending a good chunk of change, and the whole thing made the game feel nearly unplayable for people in less than ideal conditions. We're only a few days into launch, however, and we're already getting some changes. I noticed these when playing yesteday, and the developer made an announcement over on Reddit:

We’ve received great feedback from our beta and US and UK players about Spell Energy in Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. Thank you for your notes and thoughts here! We are making the following changes to the game:

  • The amount of Spell Energy given to players who first enter the game has been increased from 25 to 50

  • Increased the amount of Spell Energy you get from Inns and Greenhouses

  • Increased the amount of Spell Energy you get from Daily Assignments

    • From “To Collect an Ingredient or Portmanteau” from 5 to 10

This is good news for two reasons. First, on a basic level, access to more spell energy makes the game more playable. Second, and maybe even more important, is that it shows developers willing to move quickly to address community concerns, as well as an app that might be a little better geared to on-the-fly changes than Pokémon GO was at launch. So, on that level, it's nice to see,

And yet, I can't help but feel like it's not nearly enough. For starters, spell energy upon entering the game is basically a non-entity: you can burn that in a few minutes of play, and after that this change has no effect on gameplay after that. It's a similar problem for daily assignments: this is basically ten extra spell energy a day, which is more or less nothing in the grand scheme of things.

The inn change is the real big one, and it's helpful for a player like me. When I went out yesterday I found that the tea--which had previously been handing out 1 energy--was now handing out 3, which makes this game as easy to play as Pokémon GO currently is in my inn/Pokéstop-dense area.

But this doesn't do a whole lot of good for the player without an inn in their immediate vicinity, or with only one or two. While I understand that a core part of what makes Niantic's games special is their reliance on real-world points of interest, I was really hoping that we were going to get some structural changes that made gameplay a little less dependent on whether or not the company had approved a point of interest in your area. Blanketing the entire world in Pokéstops is a long-term goal, but it's not really feasible right now: a much better option would be to strike a balance between keeping these places special and loosening the game to the point where rural and suburban players could actually play.

Instead, we've got a spell energy system that's actually much more restrictive than Pokéballs ever were, and apparently, fewer approved points of interest to boot. This sits wrong. What I love about these games are the way they foster community, inclusivity, exercise and a new way to look at the world. But I can't help but feel like so much of that energy is wasted if the core functions of the game underline the structural inequality that already exists in the world. I want to augment my reality a little more than this.

I'm a freelance writer whose work has appeared in The Atlantic, The New York Times, The New Republic, IGN.com, Wired and more. I cover social games, video games, technol...