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Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery – Game Design Dissection

Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery – Game Design Dissection

Does Wingardium Leviosa ring a bell? If it does, you are the target audience for Jam City’s Harry Potter mobile game. In this article, I dissect Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery user acquisition, monetization, and ASO strategies to uncover the magic behind this successful game.

But first, here’s some basic info you should know about Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery.

How Successful Is Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery?

Released in 2018, Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery acquired millions of users over the years.

To find out just how successful it is, let’s look at some numbers.

Data source: App Magic

Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery Downloads by Country

Up until now, Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery was downloaded more than 100 million times. During the last couple of years, monthly downloads have been pretty steady. However, there is a slight decrease year over year.

In 2023, Harry Potter’s monthly downloads were around 1 million. That’s not bad by any means – there’s still a consistent influx of new players that keep this game alive.

It’s also important to mention that Hogwarts Mystery got new competition – a new Harry Potter game called Harry Potter: Magic Awakened.

Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery Revenue

If we look at revenues for this Harry Potter game, they follow the same trends as the downloads – they’re not as high in 2023 as they were in previous years. However, Hogwarts Mystery still brings around $3 million a month, which is more than decent.

Overall, this game has earned nearly $340 million in revenue. That tells us players are spending a lot of money on this game.

Hogwarts Mystery earns money through in-app purchases, a popular monetization method for this type of mobile game.

About Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery by Jam City

Hogwarts Mystery is a mobile game from the popular American developer Jam City that’s based on an even more popular book and movie series. In both app stores, it is categorized as an adventure game. It belongs to the RPG genre and fantasy RPG subgenre.

(To learn how to advertise an RPG game, click here).

First Impressions

Your letter is here. Congratulations, you’ve been accepted to Hogwarts!

The game starts with an introductory video that gives you all the Harry Potter vibes you need to start playing. If you’ve ever watched the Harry Potter movies, you will find that everything about it is familiar – down to the last detail. If you want, you can skip the intro.

The next thing you will do is choose your character, a witch or a wizard. After that, you get a ton of personalization options to choose from.

Once you’re all dressed up, your journey begins.

hogwarts mystery tutorial

Game Tutorial

As soon as you start playing, you get to know Rowan. She is your guide, classmate and a newfound friend that will help you get by in Hogwarts. This is where you give your character a name and start with your quests.

Next, you have to get some books, a wand, and you’re ready for the Sorting Ceremony. Here, you are able to choose a house you want to belong to. I decided to be mainstream, so I chose Harry Potter’s house – Gryffindor.

art style cinematic

Art Style

To immerse you into the Hogwarts experience, the game uses 2.5D graphics. In other words, while some aspects of the game appear to be 3D, the game is restricted to a 2D space.

When it comes to art style, the first thing you will notice are memorable details from the movies, big and small. There is the famous Diagon Alley, Hogwarts Express, the castle interior etc. Not only that, but the Hogwarts professors are spitting images of their movie counterparts.

The game comes in a moderately dark color palette, just like the movies. The overall visual impression of the game could be described as semi-realistic.

When it comes to video clips that appear during gameplay – they are cinematic. This makes them more realistic than the rest of the game.

user interface

UI/UX

In this game, you never have to wonder what to do next. There is always a highlighted icon to guide you.

When it comes to moving around, it is rather limited.

Yes, you can explore the castle. But with the 2.5D graphics, you can only slide from side to side in order to look at rooms and surroundings. There is no open-world freedom to move around and do whatever you want.

Maybe for the better, so you don’t get in trouble like the real Harry Potter.

The game’s user interface is easy to understand. The top left is reserved for your avatar and quests. On the top right, you see the current state of energy, coins, and gems. As you progress, new features will appear on the interface.

Hogwarts Mystery Game Mechanics

Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery is a mix of genres, so are its mechanics.

Everything is driven by continuous storytelling and progressing. Also, role-playing elements are the main part of the experience.

There are three main game parts: the storyline, your decision-making, and mission completion.

The final goal of everything you do is to lead your house to victory in a house vs. house competition. For this reason, it always feels satisfying to hearpoints for Gryffindor!

Let me take you through the main mechanics.

narrative mechanics hogwarts mystery

Progression-Based Narrative Mechanics

The story is – you are in Hogwarts seven years before Harry Potter’s arrival. It is your first year of studies.

This means you have to attend classes, but you also pay close attention to the story. An important part of the plot is that your older brother was expelled from the school under unusual circumstances. This puts you under the magnifying glass. It even makes some of the students despise you.

One of the most exciting things in the game is how your decisions influence the story. For example, someone bullies you about your brother and you will have choices like this:

A: Be peaceful

B: Ignore them

B: Stand up for yourself

What you decide matters, just like in interactive story games. You collect points that shape your character’s personality (courage, knowledge, and empathy).

The whole story has different moments: dramatic, emotional, and humorous ones. Also, the game is divided into chapters.

Energy Mechanics

Every time you are completing tasks, they take your energy away. Eventually, you will run out of energy units.

What happens then is wait time. You will have to wait for the energy bar to recharge. How much you have to wait depends on how much energy you’re lacking. For example, if it is only one unit, you will be ready to continue in 4 minutes.

hogwarts mystery energy mechanics meme

You will spend energy on just about everything: researching, studying, fighting… Even for taking a break. Of course, players find that one just hilarious.

Your other option is to use gems to speed things up.

timers

Idle Mechanics

When I say idle, I am talking about the game’s timers. They are an important part of the game, and they keep ticking even when you’re not actively playing the game.

Energy is not the only thing related to wait times. They will also appear before you get to unlock a new chapter of the story. This time-gated feature can be skipped by using the hard currency – gems.

playing hogwarts mystery

Who Is Playing Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery?

The fact that this mobile game is a part of such a popular franchise plays a big part in this game’s success. Harry Potter books and movies were imprinted in the minds of millions of children all around the world. Except that they are not children anymore, but adults with purchasing power.

I’m talking about – millennials.

This is the generation Harry Potter had the biggest impact on since the books and movies were at the peak of popularity while they were growing up. Most have a special relationship with Harry Potter to this day.

Demographics data confirms this. The average age of a Hogwarts Mystery player is 33 and 74% of them are female.

As a millennial, I can attest to this phenomenon – I still vividly remember the opening scene of Harry Potter & The Sorcerer’s Stone and the excitement I felt watching it. That music triggers an intense nostalgia that instantly brings me back to my childhood, whenever I hear it.

That’s why, for millennials, in particular, a Harry Potter themed mobile game is very appealing.

And mind you, I was never that into it or a part of the Harry Potter fandom – I simply watched and liked the movies when I was a kid. Now imagine a millennial audience that was and still are diehard Harry Potter fans who worship everything about it.

I bet they’re playing this mobile game.

However, millennials are not the only fans of Harry Potter, there are people from younger generations that have taken to it as well. That makes the target audience for this game quite large, but most importantly, ready to spend on anything related to their favorite wizard.

Player Archetypes

According to GameRefinery, these are the main three types of mobile gamers who are playing Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery – Expressionist, King of the Hill, and Treasure Hunter.

Here’s how GameRefinery explains these player archetypes and how they relate to the game.

expressionist gamer type

Expressionist

These players love customization and expressing themselves. Considering how many customization features Hogwarts Mystery has, it’s no wonder Expressionists are attracted to it. In this game, players can not only personalize their avatar but collect unique items, customize their dorm, and much more.

Treasure Hunter

The Harry Potter world offers gamers a lot to explore. Players can collect and purchase many different items like books and wardrobe. This certainly appeals to Treasure Hunters.

skill master gamer type

Skill Master

The motivational drivers for this group of players are improving and mastering skills, completing milestones, and they also like some excitement. In Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, there are many magical milestones and missions to complete, which makes this game the perfect fit.

Harry Potter App Store Optimization Dissection

Each element of the app store page listing has an impact on the game’s organic user acquisition. However, it also helps with paid user acquisition since users who click on an ad are sent to the game’s app store page.

On Google Play, Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery is an Editor’s Choice game, which further increases the game’s visibility and popularity.

Below, I go over each ASO element and break down why it’s effective.

hogwarts grand hall

Game Title

The game title, Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, works well for several reasons.

First, there’s the brand name “Harry Potter” that’s recognizable all around the world. The second part is also a reference to the books and movies – everybody knows that Hogwarts is the famous School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Furthermore, there’s the addition of “mystery” since this game has mystery game elements. In other words, the players can investigate different mysteries at Hogwarts. The main one being the mysterious disappearance of the main character’s brother which players need to solve.

harry potter hogwarts mystery logo

Game Icon

The Harry Potter game icon depicts the King from Wizard’s chess featured in the Sorcerer’s Stone movie. That’s a reference only people familiar with the books and movies will recognize and understand.

And that’s the whole point.

The primary target audience for this game are fans of Harry Potter, which is why this type of icon works.

There’s also the famous Harry Potter brand/logo writing.

The main issue I have with this icon is that it’s pretty dark and almost illegible when I look at it on Google Play because the icons are small. It took me a moment to recognize what it even is, even though I’m familiar with Wizard’s chess. That’s not good.

An icon needs to not only be legible but pop out and catch my attention instantly, which is not something I can say for this icon.

harry potter aso keywords google play

Hogwarts Mystery ASO Keywords

Above, you can see Harry Potter ASO keywords for Google in the US.

On Google Play, the Harry Potter game ranks #1 for the following keywords:

  • Hogwarts
  • Harry Potter
  • Harry potter Hogwarts mystery
  • Hogwarts mystery
  • Harry poter
  • Potter Hogwarts mystery
  • Harry potter Hogwarts
  • Harry potter gameS
  • Potter Hogwarts

Basically, all of those keywords are a variation of the game’s name and different combinations of the keywords “harry”, “potter”, “hogwarts”, and “mystery”.

harry potter aso keywords app store

We see similar keywords for Apple as well.

Hogwarts Mystery App Promo Video Breakdown

The ASO element that has the biggest power to persuade people to download a game is the app promo video. However, it needs to be well thought out and carefully crafted to drive conversions.

A great example of that is the Harry Potter app promo video.

Here’s what makes it good.

The opening scene depicts the shadowy, but easily recognizable Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and the game title. It’s instantly clear that this is a Harry Potter themed game.

After this one-second scene, we get right into different game features – explaining them is the main purpose of an app promo video.

The first feature presented is “Experience quidditch like never before” and we see exciting scenes of the famous fictional sport. Then we see more scenes that everybody who watched Harry Potter movies will recognize – the Hogwarts grand hall, Hogwarts Express train, and the sorting hat ceremony.

It’s clever to include these scenes because they speak to everybody who’s a fan of the books or the movies. Who doesn’t want to sit in that grand hall or find out which of the four houses you’ll be assigned to? This game allows you to experience all of it, which is its main appeal.

hogwarts mystery app promo video google play app store

Next, the app promo video showcases another important game feature – the ability to customize your character. It’s like in The Sims – players can fully customize the facial features, hair, clothes, and accessories of their character. This is an important feature to highlight because it’s all about expressing one’s creativity, which appeals to Harry Potter fans.

In the second half of this 30-second app promo video, we see short scenes of famous characters like Snape and Hagrid, and even more game features. In this game, players can fall in love and form relationships, learn spells, and uncover magical mysteries.

At the end of the video, there’s an image that depicts Dumbledore, Snape, and a student who represents the player that’s facing them. The only thing this app promo video lacks is a call to action.

hogwarts mystery game screenshot

Screenshots/Graphics

Screenshots are another way to visually represent game features in the app stores. Harry Potter graphics include the following features and benefits.

“Discover your bravery” depicts a student battling a dragon using spells. “Test your wit” shows a student with examination results. “Show your ambition” features Snape and the potions players can brew. “Experience quidditch” depicts a quidditch player in action, just about to catch the Golden Snitch ball.

hogwarts mystery game screenshot

“Decorate your dorm room” shows players that they can choose different furniture for their room. “Customize your outfit” refers to the ability to customize characters and showcases characters in unique outfits and styles.

As you can see, captions/titles are very useful for app store graphics because they highlight and further explain the feature that’s depicted.

Description

The Hogwarts Mystery game description is separated into multiple sections:

  • Witchcraft & wizardry
  • Mystery & adventure
  • Enter the wizarding world
  • Friendships that matter
  • Express your creativity

In each of these sections, you can read about different game features and benefits, which there are plenty of. Some might be drawn to the mystery aspect of the game, while others want to learn magic spells and brew potions. There’s something for everybody.

playing harry potter game

Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery Advertising Strategies

A lot of what Jam City relies on to advertise this Harry Potter game is generational marketing geared mostly to millennials. However, if we look at the target audience more broadly, it includes all Harry Potter fans, regardless of their age.

Hogwarts Mystery Advertising on Facebook

Let’s start with Hogwarts Mystery Facebook ads, as they’re in the majority.

Facebook Ad #1

This Hogwarts Mystery Facebook ad uses the trendy before/after template for video ads. More specifically, we see a character before and after customization.

It’s a 9:16 split-screen video where “before” is at the top and “after” is at the bottom. The same can be achieved with a different aspect ratio and before/after can be on the left and right side instead of top/bottom.

As the pointer hand clicks on the “before” image, we’re led into a sequence that shows us the customization that took place. More specifically, the different hairstyles and outfits one can choose from. Finally, the character looks like in the “after” video.

This is a very simple ad that focuses on just one game feature – character customization. Since Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery is a role-playing game, being able to customize the main character is very important. It allows players to express their identity through the character.

Facebook Ad #2

What makes this 30-second Facebook ad interesting is that it features actual Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone movie scenes. We see students arriving in the Hogwarts grand hall and Harry with the sorting hat.

Now that’s how you grab the viewer’s attention in the first two seconds of the ad.

Just those two short scenes at the beginning are enough to hook people in and entice them to continue watching the ad.

Then we see the title “Enter the world of Harry Potter” and are transported into the game.

Notice that the first two scenes of the gameplay footage are parallel to the ones we saw in the movie – students in the grand hall and the sorting hat. That’s quite clever because players are shown that the game follows the Harry Potter movie. In other words, in the game, players can experience all the famous scenes/events from the the movie. That’s an important USP for this game.

The next 20 seconds of the ad showcase different game features like brewing potions, playing quidditch, fighting dragons, and learning spells.

The ad ends with a “Play free now” CTA. We also see the game featured on two mobile devices – a tablet and a smartphone.

Facebook Ad #3

This Facebook ad is almost 50 seconds long, unlike the standard 15-30 second ads. The first thing we see is Hedwig the Owl at King’s Cross train station. As the camera pans out, the famous Platform 9¾ appears. The camera goes right through it and we’re transported to Hogwarts.

Once again, this is an exceptionally well-made beginning of an ad. It follows the impress first, explain later technique for video ads. Those first few seconds are enough to grab the attention of any Harry Potter fan.

Next, there are some scenes I saw in other Hogwarts Mystery ads – the sorting hat scene, Hogwarts Express, grand hall, etc. It’s ok to use the same assets in some video ads but arrange them differently, or combine them with other scenes. However, make sure not to overuse some of them. Ad fatigue is real, and people get bored of same or similar ads very quickly.

Facebook Ad #4

This one-minute Facebook ad starts with a bang, like all other Hogwarts Mystery ads. In the first few seconds, we see a visually appealing scene of a Hogwarts student flying around on a Pegasus-like winged horse. It’s exciting, looks great, and most importantly – it draws attention.

After the “Welcome to Hogwarts” title, we get a full rundown of all Hogwarts Mystery game features. There are a plethora of amazing scenes from the game that are edited exceptionally well and show the game’s range.

The end of the ad consists of an image depicting Hogwarts at night, the game’s logo, a tablet featuring the game, and a “Play free now!” CTA.

Facebook Ad #5

This Hogwarts Mystery Facebook ad is even longer than the last two – 1 minute 45 seconds, which is very unusual for video ads. Since people’s attention spans are short, it’s hard to imagine that someone would watch an ad for almost two minutes, no matter how interesting it is.

The entire ad is about quidditch and it looks more like a short movie rather than a mobile game ad. There are incredible scenes of adrenaline-fueled quidditch action, training, teamwork, and of course, victory.

At the 1 minute 10 second mark, it seems like the ad has ended. There’s even an end screen with a CTA. However, the Golden Snitch ball appears, and the ad continues for another 30 seconds, which is a strange, but interesting choice.

hogwarts mystery facebook banner ads

Facebook Image Ads

The last Facebook ads I’ll dissect are three Facebook image ads.

All of them have the same ad copy – “Hogwarts is less fun without you and your stories! Continue your magical adventures TODAY!”

Based on the copy, I can conclude those are most likely retargeting ads. In other words, they’re shown to players who have stopped playing the game, asking them to come back and “continue their magical adventures today”.

Furthermore, the first two ads have the same image of a game character performing spells. However, in the first one, the quote is “I am what I am, and I’m not ashamed.”. In the second, it’s “Anything is possible, if you’ve got enough nerve.”

Both are quite inspiring messages for players who want to express their individuality and experience something new and exciting.

The third image ad features the Riddikulus spell. According to Harry Potter wiki, “Riddikulus is a charm that is used in defense against a Boggart. It causes the creature to assume a form that is humorous to the caster, thereby counteracting the Boggart’s ability to terrorize. Boggarts are defeated by laughter, so forcing them to assume an amusing form is the first step to defeating them.”

This is something only a Harry Potter fan might know, which indicates these ads speak to a very particular group of people. In other words, these ads are not for Muggles.

Applovin Ad

I also want to include one top-performing Applovin ad. It is about choosing your house, which is a big deal in the Harry Potter world. That makes it incredibly important to any Harry Potter fan, especially millennials. So much so that Gen Z is openly mocking Millennials for being so invested and protective over their Harry Potter house.

In the ad, we see the crests for all four houses – Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, and Slytherin, and a pointer hand hovering over them.

In this case, Gryffindor is the chosen house, which is an expected choice. I’m more of a Slytherin kind of girl.

In any case, being able to choose your house in Hogwarts Mystery is a very appealing feature. It’s a smart choice to create an ad about it.

sorting hat

4 Things You Can Learn From Hogwarts Mystery Advertising Techniques

To wrap things up, let’s go through some important lessons you can learn from this popular game.

Here are some actionable tips you can try right now to improve your paid and organic user acquisition strategy.

1. Grab the Viewer’s Attention in the First Few Seconds of an Ad

The first 2 or 3 seconds of a video ad are crucial – this is when viewers decide whether to continue watching or scroll past the ad. For that reason, the beginning of a video ad needs to be carefully crafted to draw maximum attention.

All Harry Potter ads succeed at this.

There’s always something really interesting, captivating, and exciting in those first few seconds. It demands attention and makes you stop and watch.

generations meme

2. Utilize Generational Marketing

Most of Harry Potter advertising relies on generational marketing. That’s an approach to marketing where you segment a target audience based on generational archetypes, i.e., Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, Gen Z, etc.

As mentioned before, the majority of the target audience for this game are millennials who grew up with Harry Potter.

When targeting a specific generation, like the Millennials, you need to understand their characteristics, interests, and behavior. Then, create ads based on it.

For example, millennials are known to be very individualistic, some would even say self-absorbed. So, a Harry Potter ad that shows they can personalize their character and express their creativity is very appealing to that audience.

Simple, right?

3. Create Ad Variations for Different Audience Segments

No matter how specific your target audience is, it’s still a good idea to further segment it according to things like interests and behavior.

So let’s say Jam City is targeting Millennials in the US who are fans of Harry Potter. That’s a good starting point, but it’s a very broad audience. It’s hard to create an ad that will appeal to such a large group of people.

For that reason, advertisers segment the audience into smaller groups and create ads for each one, based on their particular interests.

hogwarts mystery audience segmentation and inclusivity

In the image above, you can see three variations of the same Facebook ad for the Harry Potter game.

The concept is the same – it’s an image of a couple on a date with the following ad copy: “Find your secret admirer at the Hogwarts festival. Solve the mystery and uncover the identity of who fancies you.”

This is an important game feature that allows players to find romance, go on dates, and fall in love. However, what makes these three ads different are the couples and the clothes they’re wearing.

In the first one, we see a boy and a girl. They’re wearing a flower head accessory popular with festival-goers and a preppy outfit.

In the second one, we see two boys, a gay couple. They also have flower headwear, but they’re wearing colorful shirts.

In the third one, we see two girls, presumably a lesbian couple. They both have darker hair with black rock and roll style outfits.

Each of those ad variations appeals to a different audience segment based on their gender, sexuality, and fashion interests. Plus, they offer representation for different identities, which is very appreciated by Millennials and younger audiences.

quidditch

4. Create a Stellar App Promo Video

Although advertising is important, it’s not all about paid user acquisition. An app promo video can drive conversions organically.

That’s why you need to make a good one.

Here’s what a high-quality app promo video should include:

  • Actual gameplay footage (not cinematics that misrepresent the game)
  • An attention-grabbing opening scene
  • Scenes that describe the game’s features and benefits
  • A short introduction to the game’s characters/world
  • Captions where necessary
  • A call to action at the end of the video

Furthermore, a good app promo video needs to follow the game’s visual style and be on-brand. Aim for 30 seconds in length.

Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery Monetization 

As you can see, the game itself is pretty lightweight and on the fun side. For this reason, this adventure game mostly attracts a non-paying audience.

Monetizing such players is not an easy task.

The game itself is free-to-play for anyone. Yet, if you want to enjoy a full gameplay experience, you might want to open up your wallet. According to Unity, the revenues in the adventure genre are driven by IAP revenue (77%).

This tells us there are plenty of adventure players interested in premium gameplay. You just have to know how to approach them.

Which Monetization Models Harry Potter Uses?

To approach its playerbase, Hogwarts Mystery offers in-app purchases.

Here’s what Josh Yguado, president of Jam City (interviewed by Gamesindustry.biz) says about the game’s monetization:

“If you’d like to go through it quickly you can pay to do that…Not everyone who plays our game pays — in fact, I’d say the majority don’t.”

“I think you get very good value for money — think about a film, where you may pay $5 or $10 to get two hours of entertainment, or a book where you spend $20 or $30 for a few hours. I think you get a lot of hours of enjoyment in our games for a very, very reasonable price.”

Does the game really feel like this? I played the game and analyzed it in detail to find out.

hogwarts mystery monetization currencies

In-App Purchases Strategy and Setup

The place that tells you most about a game’s monetization strategy is the in-game store.

In Harry Potter, you will most likely head there to speed things up.

Here’s what I mean.

While completing missions in the game, you spend units of energy. This is the most precious resource in the game. Tap by tap, and you will be out of energy.

An interesting thing is, you will often run out of energy in moments of danger. In these exciting moments, you have a choice to wait for a set amount of time or use gems to buy energy.

You will get gems naturally from the game as rewards for in-game achievements. Of course, in limited amounts. This means you will face wait times in almost every session. For this reason, you can purchase gems from the game’s store and convert them into energy. This will bring you longer, uninterrupted sessions.

In the game’s store, you will also find the soft currency, coins. Generally, the game is much more generous with coins than with gems. You can use coins to buy new outfits, pets, etc.

Pricing Structure for In-App Purchases

Setting up the right pricing structure is very, very important. This is one of the things you have to test while developing a game.

There are a few monetization practices that game developers rely on:

  • Offer variety
  • Range of price points
  • Value for money

Does Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery pass the best practices test?

Let’s analyze.

hogwarts mystery monetization in game store

Energy, the fuel that drives it all, can be bought in exchange for 20, 50, or 100 gems.

hogwarts mystery monetization in game store gems

The offer of gems comes in six different sizes and price points. They range from $1.99 all the way to $99.99. The value for money increases with each new offer.

For example, $1.99 you can get you 50 gems. If you have some of your own to add up, you will be able to buy 30 energy. This will be enough to buy you about 20 minutes of pure gameplay. If you want to play for hours, you’re going to need to invest more.

On the other hand, coins come at five different price points. They range from $0.99 to $49.99. Since they are used mostly for cosmetic purposes, they are given in bigger amounts.

As much as you enjoy the gameplay, wait times will limit your sessions. Many of us are impatient, and this is what drives the game’s revenues.

Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the best selling IAP in the game is the Measure of Gems priced at $4.99. In fact, the top five bestsellers of the game are the store’s gem offers.

From my experience, if you want to play for an hour with no interruptions, you will have to make at least one mid-size purchase.

Don’t mind laying back for a while? You will have no complaints on the game’s monetization.

How In-App Purchases Really Work in Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery

To find out exactly how IAP offers appear in the game, I played the game every day for a week.

Here is my day-after-day Hogwarts Mystery monetization experience.

Day 1

During my first session, I got familiar with the game, got some books, and a wand. Soon, it was time to depart for Hogwarts.

About 10 minutes into gameplay, a pop up with an IAP offer appeared.

iap offer hogwarts mystery monetization

“Take a cat to Hogwarts”  for $4.99 or wait until Chapter 4. This was pretty quick and unexpected. I guess the game wants to reach cat ladies like myself early on.

Day 2 

In this session, I came upon a dangerous situation. My enemy from Slytherin has set up a trap for me and I got caught up in the “Devil’s Snare”.

If you don’t have enough energy, you may have to wait eight hours to escape it. When your character is about to be strangled, waiting sure doesn’t feel comfortable…

devil's snare meme wait time

This is the point where many players complain their game was paused for the first time. On the other hand, some make memes about it. Luckily, I had some energy saved up so I was able to save my character right away.

starter bundle hogwarts mystery monetization

Suddenly, a small icon that says Special offer appeared on the screen. It took me to the game’s store where a Starter Bundle was added to the offer. It was priced down from $24.99 to $9.99, offering gems, coins, and energy.

I have to say, the value for money is far better from the regular store offers. Just like a starter offer should be.

Day 3

After playing for a couple of days, the most unexpected thing happened.

During the potions class, I ran out of energy and was offered to buy gems from the store.

I thought – this must be a paywall.

But then, out of nowhere, an energy icon with the word Special appeared on my screen.

rewards for all

Apparently, the game provided Rewards for all! as a way to thank players for playing the game.  Just like that, I got 200 extra energy units.

For comparison’s sake, if I were to purchase this much gems and energy, it would have cost me roughly 15 bucks.

Day 4

The energy units I got as a reward lasted for a while. Next thing I knew I was in broom flying class when I ran out of energy again.

Since I declined the store’s offer, my only choice was to wait.

During this session, another time-limited offer icon appeared on my screen. It was a bundle deal that brings large amounts of energy, gems, coins, and books at the price point of $17.99.

Day 5

As I learned by now, almost every new day brings a new bundle deal. Therefore, day 5 brought another time-limited special bundle to the store.

special bundle iap offer

This one was a bit better-value-for-money than the previous one, offering five different resources at $11.99.

Day 6

After I finished Chapter 5, I got a pop-up inviting me to check out an outfit offer.

pet and outfit iap offers

It appeared in the game’s store and came with 50% off. For $12.99, I would get not only a new outfit, but also energy, gems, and books.

Right after that, a pop up with a pet offer appeared. Besides a magical lizard, it also came with energy, gems, and books. This offer was priced at $19.99.

Day 7

During my last session, my energy was fairly refilled so I was able to play for quite some time. There were no pop-ups, but I went to check if the store had added any kind of new offer.

iap offer hogwarts mystery

Turns out, I had a good hunch. One of the previous offers was gone, and a new one took its place. It was a special, time-limited bundle at the price of $14.99.

in Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery

Adventure games like this one mostly attract mid-core players in search of an escape from reality and a little bit of fun.

It doesn’t matter how good a game is, retaining players is always challenging. Even for top games on the market like Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery.

To put it in numbers, let’s go over player retention data for the top 2% of adventure games, obtained from Bechmarks+ platform by GameAnalytics.

After day 1, they manage to keep less than half of new players (about 47%). A week later, about 17% of players continue playing. On day 28, this number is cut down all the way to 8%.

For game monetization, getting new players is important, but keeping them is crucial. Especially when a game monetizes with in-app purchases.

One of the things that makes Hogwarts Mystery successful in retaining players are its narrative features.

Josh Yguado, president of Jam City (for GameWorld Observer) revealed the game’s retention strategy:

“The main lesson of Hogwarts Mystery is that a story-driven experience is an efficient tactic to maintain player engagement over a long period of time.”

Here are some other retention strategies the game uses.

idle mechanics timer

Wait Timers

The energy-gated wait timers are a good retention instrument themselves.

However, there is one thing that makes them even more effective – leaving players with a cliffhanger.

The cliffhanger is some kind of exciting, unfinished situation. It can be something like summoning up a broom, or some kind of dangerous, life-threatening situation. For example, getting attacked by the Devil’s snare.

These kinds of things motivate players to come back and see what happens.

character customization hogwarts mystery

Character Customization

This is one of the most important retention features that players experience after they launch the game.

This game provides a crazy amount of customization features. They are not cheap when it comes to choices, even at the beginning.

You can really customize your character the way you want to. They cover everything from haircut, color, to nose and lip shape, even eyebrows.

Whether you are a cat person, a dog person, a bird lover, or something else, you will also be able to choose a perfect pet.

The reason for all of this is pretty straightforward – creating a special bond between the player and the character.

Owning the Story

This game really allows you to express your own personality. Every time the narrative gives you a choice, you get to alter the course of the game.

It’s like the game is constantly asking What would you do?

For this reason, this feature can make you feel even closer to your character.

Events

The event section is here to keep you busy. While you are waiting for your mission timers to do their thing, you can complete smaller tasks.

They are only available for a limited amount of time and take your energy away. Of course, completing them brings you additional resources.

share a meal mini game

Mini Games

Mini games are also a side feature designed to keep the game going. These are mini games you play with your friends or with random opponents.

With friends, you get to share a meal and play gobstones. Both of these have the same purpose – to strengthen your friendship. I have to say, you can see some real friendship going on in this game.

Another mini game in Harry Potter is dueling. You can earn rewards, and better – prepare for dueling with your enemies. P.S. you will probably find them extremely annoying.

Push Notifications in Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery

All of the retention features above are more or less subtle. The most direct retention strategy the game uses are push notifications.

The role of push notifications is simple – to bring players back to the game. For this to actually happen, push notifications should be relevant, timely, and enticing.

If you do just one thing wrong – they can chase players away.

push notifications hogwarts mystery

Hogwarts Mystery sure doesn’t hold back in sending out push notifications. After finishing my first session, it took minutes until I got the first push notification. It was an “Energy full” notification.

After I didn’t respond to it, the second one was there to tell me that “Hogwarts Misses You”. This was purely a reminder to come back.

Later on, resource-related notifications popped up regularly.

The notifications mostly followed the storyline. The content of these notifications was pretty enticing, such as: Rowan is ready for you, or Professor McGOnagall expects perfect attendance. 

Even though they come often, the notifications are not too aggressive. For example, none of the notifications featured in-app purchase offers.

Let me sum up the push notifications experience in Hogwarts Mystery for you:

The good

  • Notifications align with your in-game progress
  • The content is always new and enticing
  • They don’t feel generic

The bad

  • The content is not fully personalized (don’t mention your name)

The risky

  • They come often (4-5 times a day)

hogwarts mystery monetization strategy

5 Lessons From Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery Monetization Strategy

Monetization is a constant work in progress. It can also NEVER please everyone. There will always be player complaints, suggestions, as well as new trends to keep up with.

We decided to focus on the good, so here are 5 key takeaways from the Hogwarts Mystery monetization strategy.

1. Provide a Variety of Offers and Price Points

The whole in-game store in this game is set according to best practices.

The game’s hard currency – gems, come in the most diverse range of sizes and price points. This way, the players can make different decisions. After all, not everyone has the same needs or purchasing power.

It is also interesting that energy can’t be bought with real money, but just with gems. This might also be a spending boost. Why? Players don’t feel as if they are spending real money.

special offers time limited

2. Special Offers Should Be Time-Limited and Valuable

Every special offer I came across in this game had three characteristics – it was a bundle, time-limited, and valuable. This is the main Hogwarts Mystery monetization strategy.

When you pack different resources into bundles, you are able to offer a better value for money.

For example, the most expensive item in this game are gems. It doesn’t make sense to offer only gems at a discount. Because then – who would even look at the regular offers?

Bundle deals are here to provide value in pricing, and the quantity makes it look even more valuable. However, you don’t need advanced calculus to figure out that all bundle deals pay off more than the regular store offers.

The offers are time limited, which provides a sense of urgency. Plus, the timers are real. I’ve seen numerous games with fake timers trying to lure players.

3. Align Offers With the Player Journey

As a new player, one of the first offers you will come across in this game is a starter bundle.

When it comes to starter bundles, they should come at the right moment and not be too expensive. At the price of $9.99, it was the cheapest special offer I’ve seen in the game.

Later on, the offers rotate according to your in-game progress. For instance, more expensive offers will appear at later stages. Besides that, this is also when customization offers kick in.

pet offer pop up

4. IAP Offers Can Pop up Occasionally

For the most part, the IAP offers in this game didn’t come as pop-ups. In most cases, they were just a small icon on the screen.

Pop ups are annoying. This is true if there are 5 of them in a single session. In this game, I came across two pop-ups, one at the beginning and one 5 sessions later.

This kind of approach is what I call balanced selling. The thing is, you can’t always count on players to come to the game’s store themselves. Sometimes, all it takes is a little push.

5. Offer Customization Features to Purchase

Many games focus too much on hard currency that they forget to offer something different as well. Just like RPG games offer skins, here – you can buy outfits and pets. Another interesting Hogwarts Mystery monetization feature.

Even though they might not be relevant to the game’s progress, highly engaged players really appreciate these cosmetic features.

Besides, the game offers customization features in bundle deals with other resources. This way, e.g., the outfit can attract players, while the added benefits might win them over.

Final Thoughts on Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery

You have come to the very end of my analysis of Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery

Congratulations, it was a long one.

If you want to learn more, check out our other mobile game dissections and subscribe to our newsletter to receive them regularly.

In case you have a mobile game and need help advertising it – reach out, it’s what we specialize in!

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