Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery is an ambitious game that shows off exactly how far interactive experiences have come on mobile platforms. It looks good for something that fits on your phone and is free, but the sad truth is that it’s not free. Hogwarts Mystery, like most free-to-play mobile games, relies on microtransactions to not just make money, but earn more than an average game thanks to frustrating and borderline predatory tactics.
A surprisingly large and relatively well-polished game like Hogwarts Mystery needs to make money — that’s why they’re releasing the game in the first place. But $10 haircuts for characters and the “energy” meter that allows players to push through the story of the mobile game is becoming a major issue. Gamers are reporting an inability to continue scenes or progress at all through the relatively linear game without throwing down money. If they don’t spend, they have to wait hours to let their energy replenish and only then can they progress.
One of the most egregious examples of this was brought up by Eurogamer, which was stuck as they were being strangled by vines. They had the option of either paying to move forward in the game or wait hours for their energy to ramp up to escape. This is like binge-watching a Netflix show and then having to pay to get to the next episode of Stranger Things.