Harry Potter: Magic Awakened was one of the most anticipated games of the year.
After achieving tremendous success in the Chinese mobile gaming market, on June 27, the game has finally been launched worldwide.
- Does this game have what it takes to bewitch the entire world?
- How does it compare to all the other Harry Potter games?
- Does it follow the classic HP book and movie narrative?
- How does it make the big bucks?
We played and explored the game to answer all these burning questions & more.
Magical Launch in Asia
Harry Potter: Magic Awakened was initially released in September 2021 in China, followed by select Asian territories shortly after. The game is developed by a major Chinese developer, NetEase, and supported by Portkey Games by Warner Bros.
Right off the bat, the game reached the #1 position on the iOS top charts.
And it stayed there for 7 days straight.
If you’re familiar with the Chinese mobile gaming market, you know this is incredibly rare for a new title. Tencent’s games dominate the Chinese market, and this was the first game by another studio to achieve this since 2016.
The game’s launch was also incredibly profitable.
In just two months in select Asian markets, the game grossed over $228 million from in-app purchases (Sensor Tower).
The Harry Potter Battleground
Feel like you’ve already seen a million games based on the Harry Potter IP?
There have been many attempts to create THE Harry Potter game.
So far, the most successful publisher to do it is Jam City with its RPG title Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery. This is the highest-grossing Harry Potter game with $401 million in player spending (October 2022, Sensor Tower). In the same period, Magic Awakened was a close second with $358 million in user spending.
Are we going to witness a shift at the top soon?
Now that Harry Potter: Magic Awakened has been launched globally, it’s on track to surpass Hogwarts Mystery as the top-grossing Harry Potter mobile game of all time.
For now, the game is gaining the most traction in the US, which is a traditionally lucrative market. According to AppMagic, 48% of game revenues outside of China come from the US. However, we have yet to see how much the game will earn in the upcoming period.
Harry Potter: Magic Awakened Overview
Harry Potter: Magic Awakened is a collectible card game (CCG) with RPG and multiplayer elements.
Sounds like a little bit of everything, right?
Indeed, the game blends together many different mechanics, but it’s done surprisingly well.
Let’s go over its main characteristics.
This game puts a strong emphasis on the storyline.
It begins with an expected opening – the player receives a letter to join the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
But, the protagonist isn’t Harry Potter.
The main character is a “new kid” in Hogwarts hoping to fit in and develop their wizarding skills. The story of Magic Awakened takes place ten years after Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the final chapter of the legendary HP series.
Despite a unique storyline, the game is filled with references from books and movies, maintaining a familiar feel. Spoiler alert – you’ll still see Dumbledore and Hagrid, and clumsy ex-student Neville Longbottom is a teacher now.
The storyline is delivered through a mix of different elements:
- Cut scenes
- Interactive choices
Harry Potter: Magic Awakened uses RPG and storytelling elements to bring players the experience of being a Hogwarts student. This includes interactions with their professors and fellow students, attending classes, and exploring their surroundings.
In the midst of all this, the game leads players to interact with the core gameplay – card battles.
These cards represent different spells and characters players can use to defeat the enemy. Unlike in most similar games, the battles aren’t automated but happen in real-time. Therefore, to win the battles, players must be tactical and timely, making sure they:
- Move their character around the arena
- React to the opponent’s moves with the right cards
- Dodge spells, etc.
It takes a bit of time to learn all this, but the game’s tutorial explains everything step by step. The movements are explained with interactive pointers, while text instructions clarify almost everything else.
One of the first things you’ll notice about this game is its compelling art style.
It’s pretty difficult to put a label on it, but some describe it as cartoonish, painterly, and even gothic.
One thing is for sure – the art style is very consistent.
Traditionally, games take advantage of cutscenes to deliver cinematic experiences wildly different from actual gameplay. Magic Awakened doesn’t rely on this strategy but instead maintains a similar art style throughout the game.
The user experience in the game is solid, but far from perfect.
Many players in the app stores complain about control issues and glitches, which we also experienced.
As the game blends different mechanics, it also relies on different control systems.
In the RPG mode, players move around using joystick controls. They can also swipe to change perspectives and zoom in and out. In the battle mode, players need to tap to move around the arena and fight using a “drag and drop” card system.
However, we don’t see the diversity of control systems as a deal-breaker. The game does a good job of teaching players how to use them, so it’s just something to get used to.
One of the players’ primary goals in this game is to collect a deck of powerful cards to use in Duels. Players can collect them in a few different ways:
- By completing story milestones
- From gacha (lucky draws)
- From gift boxes
The cards are separated into four rarity classes – legendary, epic, rare, and common. Of course, the rarer, the more valuable.
To add to the game’s complexity, these cards are also upgradable. You can look at it like this – just like you would upgrade weapons in a shooter game, here, you can level up cards and make them more powerful.
Retention and Engagement Features
Harry Potter: Magic Awakened is packed with different retention and engagement features that should help keep players engaged for a long, long time.
Let’s list the main ones, by categories.
- Daily tasks
- Sign-in rewards
- Character customization
- Yearbook (story progression overview)
Constantly present on the players’ screens, daily tasks are the primary engagement feature of the game. By completing them, players progress through the story and discover new battles.
Another thing that stands out in the game is the customization. Early in the game, players get to customize the main character, from name to face and outfit. Later, they can win or buy many more cosmetic features.
This is pretty standard.
The really cool thing is that cut scenes are customized with the character’s new appearance. Despite the fact that these scenes are pre-made, the developers have gone the extra mile to integrate this, immersing players even further and fostering a deeper connection with their in-game character.
- PvP Duels (1v1 or 2v2)
- Quidditch racing mode
- Forbidden Forest
When players first start playing the game, they play solo and engage in PvE (player vs. environment) battles. But as they complete tasks and progress through the game, they start to unlock more and more PvP (player vs. player) features.
Competitive players have a lot to enjoy in this game – they can participate in all kinds of matches, from racing on brooms to 2v2 duels and dangerous battles in the Forbidden Forest.
- Add Friends
- Social clubs
- Dormitory invitations
- House co-op
- Dancing mode
- Sharing options
Harry Potter: Magic Awakened has almost every social feature you could think of. Whether they want to take part in a world chat, a House chat, make dorm friends or even dance with others, this game will satisfy the needs of every social player persona.
Harry Potter: Magic Awakened Monetization
Since this game became so profitable in the Chinese market, we were particularly excited to explore its monetization strategy.
Here come our main findings.
No Ads, Just IAPs and Subscriptions
Considering that this game is so rich in content and features, it should be able to make a lot of players loyal.
And when players are loyal, they are more likely to open up those wallets.
For this reason, the game went all in on in-app purchases and subscriptions, with zero ads in the game.
This game has a complex, RPG-style economy. In it, players collect different currencies and resources such as Jewels, gems, gold, multiple types of keys, etc.
But, by using real-life money, they can only buy one of these currencies – Jewels. Once they have this currency, players can exchange it for practically anything else in the game and use it however they want. For example, to buy bundle packs or exchange them for keys.
They come in nine different-sized packs, from €1.10 to €119.99. Among these packs, the most popular choice among players is the €11.99 pack, according to Sensor Tower (iOS, US).
Subscription to Boost Loyalty
How to ensure that players come back to the game every single day for 30 days straight?
Welcome them with daily rewards.
Magic Awakened achieved this by introducing a great deal on their subscription offer. By purchasing a Monthly Card, players immediately receive a pack of Jewels and 30 days of potential login rewards. This offer comes at a cost of €5.99, and it is the game’s best-seller (Sensor Tower, iOS, US).
This offer brings great value for money.
When players compare this offer to the Jewel packs in the shop, they can quickly realize it grants them more for less money. And best of all – they will feel obligated to log into the game for a whole month to get their money’s worth.
The main reason players spend in this game is to add new cards to their collection.
But they can’t just buy the cards they want.
That would be pay-to-win, which wouldn’t be fair or fun.
In order to build a great card deck, players need to test their luck in a gacha system.
Called Magical Studies, the gacha feature is placed in the game’s shop. To draw cards from the gacha, players need to use keys or gems. They will get cards with each draw, but the more draws they make, the more likely they are to win rarer cards.
For example, there is only a 1.89% chance they will win an Epic card. But like every gacha, this one also comes with a “pity” system so players are guaranteed to win an Epic card within 30 draws.
To get what they want from the gacha, players will need to spend either a lot of time or a lot of money.
Gacha is generally considered a controversial mechanic, often called gambling and even predatory. For this reason, this game is also getting criticized for using this monetization method.
Enjoy Early, Spend Later
Interestingly, after playing this game for a few days, we still didn’t lose a single battle. And no, this is not because we’re amazing players.
It’s because this game first lets players enjoy the gameplay and explore all of its thrilling game features.
Once players get hooked, things will become more difficult. That’s when they will get a stronger desire to spend money on this game.
Harry Potter: Magic Awakened Advertising Strategy
What does this game do to attract new players and engage its existing audience?
Before the global launch, users had a chance to pre-register.
As a reward for doing so, they claimed the right to pre-registration rewards that landed in their in-game inboxes. This is certainly a smart strategy to draw users in and get them started with a rewarding experience.
To spread the word about the game, the developer also invested in UA, placing the ads for the game on major mobile ad networks.
The game’s ad strategy is pretty basic – ad creatives showcase key features while staying true to its art style. Apparently, the strategy is to attract players by highlighting the game’s enticing visuals.
The game also has active accounts on several social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
On these channels, they post things like player screenshots, gameplay tips, upcoming rewards, etc. All this helps them achieve an important goal – creating a strong community around the game.
Equally important, being active on these social media platforms helps them connect with Millennials, the generation that is known to be the biggest Harry Potter fanbase.
Harry Potter: Magic Awakened – A Proper Hogwarts Experience
Based on all this, it’s safe to say that Harry Potter Magic Awakened delivers a proper Hogwarts experience.
There is still a lot of room for improvement on the technical side, but the overall impression is positive.
The game comes with a refreshing new story while retaining the charm the typical Potterhead wants to experience. Also, due to an impressive number of features, the game should be able to meet the needs of many different player personas.
On the monetization side, we believe the game won’t be as successful in the West as it is in Asia.
It’s quite simple – Asian players are more into gacha than the rest of the World.
However, we believe that, despite this, it will generate enough revenue to become the top-grossing Harry Potter mobile game of all time.
To compensate for this revenue gap in the West, it might be beneficial to implement something for non-payers. For example, an in-game offerwall.
Since they traditionally work well for role-playing games that attract loyal players, we believe offerwalls would make a great addition to this game’s monetization mix.
Want to Read More Game Analyses Like This One?
Don’t forget to hit that subscribe button – we’re already working on our next game analysis (and it’s a hot game) so make sure you don’t miss it!