Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is not becoming the insta-monster that Pokémon GO was at launch, even if it’s performing relatively well in the mobile market. But the more I play, the more one of its barriers to success is abundantly clear. It is over-monetizing the living hell out of itself, which is exhausting for players and may get many to quit given how often it asks for money.
One of the most interesting things about Pokémon GO at launch was that it did not arrive with any traditional mobile monetization mechanics, no loot boxes, to pay-to-skip wait timers. It had just random items you didn’t need but were nice to have like incense, lucky eggs and so on. The only real “requirements” were incubators or Pokeballs if you were short on them, but I never had to buy Pokeballs once in that game once I built up a decent stash.
While Harry Potter: Wizards Unite still doesn’t have loot boxes, it is way, way more heavily monetized than Pokémon GO was at launch. Whether this is Niantic’s doing or more likely, WB’s Portkey Games which designed Wizards Unite, I’m not sure, but it’s pretty bad and could sink the whole game.
Why is it bad? Let me count the ways:
Yesterday I spent an entire post talking about the energy system in Harry Potter, which is far less forgiving than GO’s Pokeballs because you have such a low total cap (75) and you have to use energy while not just collecting foundables, but also when battling, which is something GO never required.
Wizards Unite has Dark Detectors which work like Lures, only with the promise that if you stack three of them (which, bought with gold, is pricey), you will be more likely to get higher quality foundables spawning nearby, which is essentially pay to win, as it’s like if tripling your lures in GO let you find much more rare Pokémon than anywhere else.
Wizards Unite has a “golden” cauldron you unlock at a certain level, but it only lets you “rent” it for a few hours to double your potion production with a slight (10%) speed boost. This costs gold, aka real money. You can also pay to skip wait timers on potions for real money. You can also just flat-out buy potions which make you stronger when casting or give you more health or XP.
The Wizards Unite inventory system is a nightmare, as each class of items, ingredients, seeds, potions all have separate inventories rather than being grouped together, and you have to upgrade them individually. I filled up almost all of them by day two, and when I was asked if I wanted to upgrade my 300 ingredient slots, it wasn’t by 100, but just 30 more slots which can be filled in about five more minutes of play. So you have to constantly juggle deleting stuff or pay for upgrades.
I can’t even remember if that’s everything (you can buy a few bundles that include items and cosmetics in the store as well), but it’s enough to make the game pretty unbearable once you’re constantly out of energy and maxed out on all your inventory space.
All of this needs to be dialed back quite a bit if Niantic and WB want Wizards Unite to take off. I understand that making money is the priority, but Pokémon GO barely monetized itself for ages and was still making hundreds of millions anyway just because the game was so fun and popular. But Wizards Unite will not be fun and will not be popular if it continues to exist in its current form. Big changes need to be made.