Harry Potter: Magic Awakened Beta Review
Harry Potter: Magic Awakened is a new Harry Potter mobile game created in partnership with NetEase Games and Portkey Games. The game launched in Chinese Mainland, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan regions on September 9, 2021.
I had the opportunity to beta-test Magic Awakened. This is my honest review of Magic Awakened so far. Keep in mind that since I played the beta version, things might change before the full release, set for sometime in 2022.
An Overview of Magic Awakened
Before we get into my thoughts about the different gameplay elements of Magic Awakened, I want to answer the basic questions you might have.
What Kind of Game is Magic Awakened?
Brace for acronyms! Magic Awakened is a card-collecting game (CCG) with massively multiplayer online (MMO) and role-playing game (RPG) elements.
If you have ever played Magic the Gathering, you understand what a card-collecting game is. Also, if you have played the Hogwarts Battle board game, you know what a deck-building game is, and how you use cards to combat.
In Magic Awakened, cards are used for combat. You have a deck of cards which are spells and other special actions. You can only select from so many at a time, and once you use a card, it will be replenished from your deck. Cards can be combined to be more effective. There is also a stamina bar which replenished pretty fast. Some cards use more stamina than others.
As well as fights during the story, you can duel other players in duelling club. These are real players (unlike Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery).
When is Magic Awakened Set?
The setting for the game is set a decade after the Battle of Hogwarts.
Headmistress McGonagall is now in charge, and you are part of the first intake of students after the war. There is a nice cutscene that sets the tone.
Is Magic Awakened “Pay to Play”?
On hearing about the new Magic Awakened mobile game, I have to admit I was a little worried. There have been many “free” mobile games launched under the Harry Potter flag that pressure people into paying to play.
For example, Hogwarts Mystery. This mobile game has a combination of an energy system and timed events to pressure the player into paying to complete before the timer runs out. You can complete without paying as long as you keep opening the game regularly to use the slowly replenishing energy. However, not all players have this much flexibility during their day.
I was expecting much the same money-grabbing technique from Magic Awakened, and I was pleasantly surprised.
Does Magic Awakened Have a Story?
While downloading the beta, I was hoping for a great story introduction into the Wizarding World. How would I get my wand? How would I be sorted? Was I going to just be at Hogwarts as soon as I opened the game, or was I going to get my letter first?
Now with the game downloaded, I created my Warner Bros account, and pressed the “Enter Hogwarts” button.
I love a good story. I’m one of those players who never skips a cutscene. I really want to be a character and connect with the other characters.
The game starts with a story of how you get your letter, of how strange things happen around you. Yes, you are Muggleborn. I finally get my letter. I won’t spoil the rest for you story lovers.
Gender selection is still rather traditional. You pick either Witch or Wizard. Witches get skirts and Wizards get trousers. You can customise skin tone, freckles, add glasses etc. There isn’t a huge number of options–unlike Hogwarts Legacy, which is said to have support for transgender people.
Getting Your Wand in Magic Awakened
The most common questions people ask when a new Harry Potter game comes out are: “How do I get my wand?” and “How do I get sorted?”
I think they got the balance correct here. For your wand, the wand chooses the wizard… But if you really want a different wand, you can reject the wand that chooses you. Keep in mind that if you have a Wizarding World assigned wand that you want to keep, not all of those options are possible in Magic Awakened.
You do, however, get to meet Ollivander and have the whole experience in Diagon Alley.
Pets in Magic Awakened
Hagrid accompanies you around Diagon Alley and gifts you an Owl who will be your pet to start with. I haven’t seen the option to buy a Cat or a Toad, which surprises me given how the game makes money (more on that later).
Sorting Ceremony in Magic Awakened
This one I was very happy with. For those of you who have read the books you’ll be happy to hear that the Sorting Hat sings! There is a full-blown sorting ceremony that sets the scene and establishes where we are in the timeline. You also get introduced to your fellow housemates (non-playable characters, or NPCs).
Much like in the books, the Sorting Hat will have its own view on what house you should be in. You also have the ability to select your own should you have a favourite.
Finally you have the feast. As a nice touch, you get to make your bed in your dormitory.
Your Player Journey in Magic Awakened
From this point on, there is somewhat of a bombardment of options. The only downside to the openness of the game is that it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the interface. For example, while navigating around the castle, there are 13 different buttons for various things. Each of those has a number of menu items and tabs. We’ll of course have guides here to help.
You start by following the main story which is the book icons at the top left of the image above. Then you will get to a point when you need to unlock chests to progress the story.
Unlocking chests is done by simply living your Hogwarts life. The Admissions button on the middle right has a list of things for you to do. It guides you around the castle and the grounds to do various tasks.
Magic Awakened Highlights
While I enjoyed multiple elements of Magic Awakened, a few things stood out. This is what I liked best.
The beta is set during the Christmas event. This gives you access to the Christmas Ball!
This works a little like Guitar Hero. Pick a real player to dance with, pick a song, and away you go! As you dance together you’ll see rings on the screen and a circle that shrinks down to meet it. You need to tap the ring when the circle meets it to hit the beat of the song and get points.
Yes this is a Hogwarts Dance Off, and it’s awesome!
Duelling in Magic Awakened
You can duel in duelling club! Not the corridors. You can play one vs one and two v two. You can also pair up with someone on your friends list. This uses the card combat again, which does take a bit of getting used to.
Quidditch in Magic Awakened
This feature I haven’t managed to unlock yet. You need to practice flying through hoops during the Admissions tasks, but that is as far as I got. Quidditch does look amazing. Again, it’s very social and involves real players.
Monetisation in Magic Awakened
The game is free to play so how does it make money? As I was playing the beta I was probably getting more rewards that if I was playing the full game, so it’s a bit difficult for me to give an opinion on balance.
The first way the game makes money is through the purchase of glamour items such as clothes, owls, and other wands for some reason. You can also decorate your bed and invite other housemates to your dorm so you can share a room.
The second way the game makes money is through rolls for cards, in-game gold, etc. If you want to take duelling seriously, and you want to be ranked high on the server, then you’ll need really good cards as well as the knowledge to use them.
All in all, it’s a rather passive monetisation system. No locking you out of lessons or timers putting pressure on you to spend.
But does it work?
Here is a something that I think western game developers need to note. If you stop annoying players, then you will keep them engaged with the game. I abandoned Hogwarts Mystery as it was just so annoying to me. Wizards Unite was a weird one as it was so buggy people didn’t want to pay.
So what are the numbers?
According to a report by SensorTower from November 2021, Hogwarts Mystery had earned $342 million since its launch three years ago. Wizards Unite (which lasted two and a half years) had earned $39 million. Puzzles & Spells, which debuted in September 2020, had earned $135 million at the time of this report.
Magic Awakened, which has only available in China and a few other Asian countries since September 2021, hit $228 million in just two months.
I could not find updated revenue numbers, but even the comparison from just a few months ago shows the strength of Magic Awakened.
This all goes to show that you can make a really good free game, while still making a lot of money from glamour and those who want to play competitively.
Magic Awakened seems to be a very good game. The art style is amazing, there is a lot to do, and it is very social, which is something many western developers have run away from lately.
The monetisation doesn’t seem strict (at least not during the beta), and the immersion is very good.
I am very much looking forward to the release and can’t wait to journey with you.
What questions do you have about Magic Awakened? Sound off in the comments! Stay tuned for detailed Magic Awakened game guides.
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Mark is a bit of an odd English chap. He used to run The Taskforce Times, a fictional online newspaper for the Wizards Unite mobile game, which was cancelled January 2022.
Mark also runs a YouTube channel dedicated to Magical Games while also enjoying life with his wife and daughter. Also he is an Archer.
Sounds fun, I am pre-registered but didn’t get an opportunity to play the beta. Thanks for the overview!