HARRY POTTER: Wizards Unite has been out in the UK and US four five days, and fans have been expressing their anger and disappointment at the new game ever since.
It’s an ‘alternative reality’ game from Niantic, the people behind the smash hit Pokémon Go, but the magic-themed title’s first few days have failed to even come close to the heights of the monster-hunting game.
In its first four days it has only made £870,000, compared to the £22million trousered from Pokémon’s opening 96 hours.
That is despite a two-year teaser campaign, significantly higher development budget, and a the game being much more fully featured at launch.
It launched in the UK and US last Thursday before launching in over 100 more countries at the weekend, from Kyrgyzstan to St Kitts & Nevis.
The problem seems to come from the way it attempts to “money grab” from players, at least according to the slew of complaints about the game.
While the game is free to download, and it is possible to play without paying, the game does offer many ways for players to spend to make their lives easier.
These charges are “driving us away from this game” according to one player called Nashud, posting to the game’s forum on Reddit and liked by hundreds of others.
In the replies, another user labels the game “a disgusting cash grab”, with others describing it as “much more aggressively monetized” than Pokémon Go.
The main complaints centre around limits on in-game storage for all sorts of things, including ingredients for spells and the ‘energy’ players need to use as they cast spells.
Energy has been compared to the Pokéballs in Pokémon Go which players use to catch individual monsters, and can both pay for with cash and obtain through visiting real-world locations, called Inns, in the game.
Different inns reward players with different items to refill your energy, ranging from Bertie Bott’s Beans and Afternoon Tea (both of which reward 3 energy) to a Turkey Dinner (which gives 10).
In Pokémon Go you have space for 300 items, and only need to use one ball to catch one monster – in Wizards Unite the most energy you can have at one time is 75 and can use 5 at a time to obtain on in-game item.
Unlike Pokémon Go’s balls, you also need to use energy in other encounters too – with players being forced to give up part way through if they don’t cough up having run out of energy, losing any rare or expensive in-game items they had used up until that point.
What is Harry Potter: Wizards Unite?
Harry Potter: Wizards Unite lets you play as an actual witch or wizard and as with Pokémon Go, sets up the real world as your game board.
The new ‘augmented reality’ game is going to be available from Google Play store for Android phones and the App Store for Apple fans.
It’s free to play, but there are many things in-game you can spend actual money on.
There are different sorts of encounters scattered over the map, and you’ll have to visit the locations in real life to interact with them.
As an actual witch or wizard you’ve got three professions to choose from: Auror, Magizoologist and Professor.
Different professions have different skills, and you’ll learn more skills as you play.
Unlike Pokémon Go everyone is on the same side; as you’re a grown-up now you don’t get dumped into a school house.
Everyone in the game is part of the Statute of Secrecy Task Force, trying to rein the magical world back in after the “Calamity”.
The game features lots of stuff for you to do on your own, such as catching magical creatures, finding magical items, or defeating Death Eaters.
Once you’ve reached the location you’ll need to bring whatever you’re hunting up on your phone screen, where you can then swipe to cast appropriate spells.
There are also more mundane things to do – you’ll have to visit greenhouses to stock up on materials for your spells, and taverns to top up your spell-casting energy through the medium of cake.
Storage limits for both energy and materials start off very low, but players can pay real money to upgrade the space they have.
The story in the game is totally new, and the first part will play out over several years.
Familiar faces from the books and movies will pop up in-game as the story progresses, along with entirely new characters.
“The micro-transaction fuelled grind has killed this game,” said another poster in the same thread.
On Twitter, on user going by Jon Peck described this as a “robbery”.
“The biggest punch in the face is the different collectables having different storage maximums and each requiring different (expensive) upgrades,” he said.
Others have attributed the failure to the limited range of phones, with only Android mobiles with at least 2GB of RAM, gyroscope and compass sensors being able to run the game.
Even then, Niantic admits that “a small number of devices” that meet even this criteria still don’t work.
Pokémon Go, by contrast, runs on almost any device with Android installed.
Virtual Reality v.s. Augmented Reality – what's the difference?
Here's what you need to know…
- Virtual reality involves using a headset to simulate a virtual world
- In a VR world, everything you see will be computer-generated
- Popular VR headsets include the HTC Vive and Facebook’s Oculus Rift
- Augmented reality lets you see the real world, but “augments” (or adds on) computer-generated elements
- This means you’ll be able to see computer images overlaid onto your real-world view
- This can be done by holding up your phone, and looking ‘through’ it using your phone camera to see directions overlayed on the road in front of you
- You can also use AR headsets like Microsoft’s HoloLens and the Google Glass spectacles
MOST READ IN GAMING
Last week it was revealed that Niantic filed a lawsuit to try and stop hackers ‘ruining’ Wizards Unite with a cracked version of the app.
Meanwhile, Sims fans have a new expansion to get their teeth into – and Island Living brings a new island, Mermaids and the game’s first-ever pre-made trans sim.
And those looking for something slightly deeper should look forward to Sea of Solitude – a new game that as well as being gorgeous and fun might help combat loneliness, beat the stigma of mental illness, and remind players that it is OK to not be OK.