Ah, the joys of free-to-play mobile games. While it is possible to craft a free game funded by microtransactions while still giving your players a satisfying experience, most companies instead opt to bore their players into coughing up cash. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, recently released on iOS and Android, definitely falls into the latter category.

Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery requires you to have energy to do…just about anything. Every tap of the screen requires energy, and when you run out of energy, you have two options: wait a long time for it to recovery slowly or pay up. Early on, you’ll encounter a scene where your character is being strangled by vines, and the energy required to free yourself is far too substantial for one quick go. Instead, you’ll have to choose between paying money to escape or leaving your character hanging for (according to Jim Sterling) about 20 minutes.

Yes, you do always have the choice of setting the phone down and ignoring it while your energy recharges, but games are meant to be played. The way this game almost literally strangles the money right out of you is perhaps a fitting metaphor for most free-to-play mobile models in general.

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Ben Lamoreux

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