Harry Potter: Magic Awakened - A glimpse of hope for wizards and witches
In case you didn’t know, a new Harry Potter game was released a week ago (September 9) in mainland China: Harry Potter: Magic Awakened (HPMA). The reason why this matters to the gaming community worldwide is that the title has not only given a glimpse of hope to the IP; but also goes to show that an effective marketing campaign is key to the success of a game.
HPMA is a card-based RPG for mobile and PC with cross-play enabled (as is for most card-based games). Developed by NetEase and officially licensed by Warner Bros., the game combines real time card combat, social RPG elements, a unique art style and, of course, the Harry Potter IP to create a deeply immersive experience.
This larger variety of modes/features allows the developers to reach to a broader audience than would typical card-based games. In addition to the above mentioned features, there are quidditch matches, a forbidden forest roguelike mode, and even a rhythm dance game built in.
A Glimpse of Hope
While there currently is no set or even confirmed worldwide release for HPMA, south east Asia (including Japan and South Korea) can expect a release of the game this coming Winter, the title has already drawn a lot of attention.
In mainland China, for a game non developed by Tencent to have held #1 on the iOS revenue chart for a full week, one had to go back to 2016, with Onmyoji, developed by NetEase. Generally, this place is held by Honor of Kings or Peacekeeper Elite (PUBGM).
While this is partly due to the fact that HPMA resembles Onmyoji, it has the same producer and some of the development team as Onmyoji, one cannot deny the marketing and onboarding used by NetEase as a key to its success.
Recent mobile Harry Potter titles have not necessarily known the success that one would expect for such a popular IP. Hogwarts Mystery has been considered by many a moderate success, while many more are still poundering how Wizards Unite’s servers have not yet been shut down.
HPMA is there to show that the IP can deliver great entertainment content (gaming) other than movie production.
The marketing campaign for the game was very strong, leading to a massive 15 million pre-registrations (keep in mind this is only in China). As a comparison, Pokémon UNITE, developed by Tencent, has yet to reach 10 million pre-registrations worldwide and the title is set to release one week away from now.
Two of the main, and immersive, elements from HPMA’s marketing campaign were the recruitment through official letters from Hogwarts, and a sorting hat ceremony.
Players had the opportunity to download the game two days before the official launch to create their character and, of course, go through the official sorting hat ceremony; where players could chat with other players and prepare for the first semester at Hogwarts. This lead to a very solid and trending response on social media, which obviously boosted enrolment for the game.
In comparison, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, developed by Niantic Labs and Warner Bros., the marketing campaign has often been blamed for the lack of success of the game. Many have considered it as an oversell or overhype of what ended being a simple copy/paste of Pokémon GO (also from Niantic Labs) with a lack of depth and storyline.
The immersion in the Harry Potter realm through the HPMA marketing campaign was rather on point, and well suited for the IP (oriented towards an immersive school onboarding rather than over the top and misleading teasers).
Harry Potter is a very popular IP in China, so it is also to be considered. It will be interesting to see where NetEase decides to take the game, and whether or not a worldwide release will eventually be considered.
Source, credit, and medias: Daniel Ahmad - Senior Analyst at Niko Partners