Are you one of many who have seen the Harry Potter movies for the 5th time?
If you haven’t I bet you know someone who has.
Today, we are here to talk about a Harry Potter game. More precisely, we’re going to dissect Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery monetization.
You will find out about the game itself and how it looks from a player’s perspective. Moreover, I will analyze the main monetization practices the game uses.
What Makes Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery So Successful
Everyone knows who Harry Potter is. This title comes with a multimillion fanbase from all over the world. Some are more into books, others prefer movies, and somehow, mobile gaming remained an untapped goldmine.
That is – until Hogwarts Mystery appeared.
It is interesting there were previous attempts of creating a successful Harry Potter game (e.g., by Niantic). Yet, none were as good as this one.
The secret to this game’s success might be related to generations and timing. The average age of a Hogwarts Mystery player is 30!
It is no secret that Millennials are the ones that grew up with Harry Potter. I know I have.
Today, Millennials are all grown up and employed – well, most of them. They have the purchasing power to drive the game’s revenues. Some of them even have children so they might want to introduce them to the game.
Today, this generation has huge potential in mobile gaming. In fact, according to AdColony, 40% of Millennials identify themselves as gamers!
Let’s see just how successful the game is.
Hogwarts Mystery Revenue and Downloads
This game comes from Jam City and is licenced by Portkey Games. Launched in May 2018, in a matter of days, it became one of those games that earn over a million dollars a day.
According to the app stores, the game belongs to the adventure and simulation genres. Note that it also has role-playing features.
Curious about the numbers? Here they come.
Unless stated otherwise, the data in this article comes from an internal source.
The game reached a total of 78.34 million downloads. During its lifetime, it made $191.82 million in revenue. All of this in less than three years of existence.
The first month after the launch was the record month in both downloads and revenue, when the game made over $17 million. Later on, the numbers have decreased, but still remained fairly high.
Who is most into wizardry?
Apparently, the US players. They convincingly lead in downloads (20.3%) and revenue (52%). No other market comes even close to it, but it is followed by Germany and Great Britain in player spending.
When your game is based on an entertainment classic like this, it has to be equally attractive to the audience. For this reason, Hogwarts Mystery ads attract fans by relating to the movie and showing all those familiar faces. Yet, they come with their own twists and turns. We have this covered in detail, so make sure to read our Hogwarts Mystery advertising analysis.
Even the Harry Potter title is no guarantee for a good game. Some of the things that make it good are its gameplay and mechanics. However, our key focus is Hogwarts Mystery monetization.
Here’s a detailed analysis of everything – from a Millennial’s point of view.
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.
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.
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.
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 hear “points for Gryffindor”!
Let me take you through the main mechanics.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
Now that we have basic mechanics covered, let’s analyze Hogwarts Mystery monetization.
Hogwarts Mystery Monetization Strategy Dissection
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: 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: Hogwarts Mystery Monetization
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?
Energy, the fuel that drives it all, can be bought in exchange for 20, 50, or 100 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.
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.
“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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This one was a bit better-value-for-money than the previous one, offering five different resources at $11.99.
After I finished Chapter 5, I got a pop-up inviting me to check out an outfit offer.
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.
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.
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.
User Retention 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Hogwarts Mystery Push Notifications Experience
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.
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:
- Notifications align with your in-game progress
- The content is always new and enticing
- They don’t feel generic
- The content is not fully personalized (don’t mention your name)
- They come often (4-5 times a day)
5 Things You Can Learn From 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.
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.
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.
Summing up Hogwarts Mystery Monetization
That’s it, this is everything you need to know about Hogwarts Mystery monetization.
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