New Trailer for “Harry Potter: Wizards Unite” Mobile Game

While no release date has yet been issued, a new trailer for the upcoming mobile game “#HarryPotter: Wizards Unite” has been released. The game is similar to the very popular “Pokémon Go” augmented reality (AR) mobile game and is, in fact, being developed by the same company, Niantic, along with Warner Brothers.

The game will be available on all iOS & Android devices soon.

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  • EA Cancels Another “Star Wars” Video Game

    #ElectronicArts (#EA) has canceled development of an open-world #StarWars game, which they had originally announced when they had also announced the shutdown of #VisceralGames back in 2017. The video game that had been under development at Visceral, codenamed #Ragtag and under the helm of Amy Henning, was being partially developed at EA’s offices in Vancouver, Canada. After the closure of Visceral, EA Vancouver totally rebooted the Ragtag project and transformed it into the open-world Star Wars game that EA was more interested in. Some of the art assets developed for Ragtag were all that was kept of Ragtag for the open-world game. (EA Vancouver handles support for a variety of the publisher’s games, including FIFA and Battlefront.)

    Unlike Ragtag, EA had not shown any of EA Vancouver’s open-world Star Wars game publicly. EA talked about it when they announced Visceral’s demise. “It has become clear that to deliver an experience that players will want to come back to and enjoy for a long time to come, we needed to pivot the design,” the company said at the time. “A development team from across EA Worldwide Studios will take over development of this game, led by a team from EA Vancouver that has already been working on the project.”

    EA had codenamed the open-world Star Wars game as #Orca, which would have involved playing as a scoundrel or bounty hunter who could explore various open-world planets and work with different factions across the Star Wars universe.

    According to insiders, EA canceled Orca so that it could instead focus on a smaller-scale Star Wars project that they could release sooner, possibly late 2020, which coincides with possible new next-generation game consoles will be released.

    Reaction to the game’s cancelation has been largely negative, including from “Rogue One” writer Gary Whitta, who said,

    “It has been catastrophically mismanaged. If I were Disney, I’d be fucking furious. I saw a bunch of that game, and it looked terrific. It would have been Star Wars Uncharted.”

    EA’s record with Star Wars video games is certainly mixed. While Battlefront was good, Battlefront II became highly controversial when news of EA’s micro-transactions built into the expensive game infuriated the gaming community. Only time will tell how the community reacts to the future games.



    Petition Seeks to Have Disney Revoke EA’s Licensing Agreement for Star Wars

    #StarWars news: a petition on seeks to have #Disney / #LucasFilm revoke #EA’s licensing agreement for “Star Wars”. Currently, the online petition has collected over 56,000 signatures and calls into question EA’s handling of “Star Wars” video games, including the first Battlefront game (with its lack of content); the closure of Visceral games & its single-player “Star Wars” video game that EA shut down earlier this year (and which we posted about last month); and, finally, EA’s micro-transactions in “Battlefront II” to get even more money from gamers, including children.



    EA Stock Down over $3-Billion After “Star Wars Battlefront II” Loot-Crate Micro-Transaction Debacle

    #StarWars news: #EA’s shareholders are running for the hills this month due to the company’s profitable business model now at risk after angry gamers revolted over its aggressive in-game moneymaking strategy in “Star Wars #BattlefrontII.” EA’s stock value is down 8.5% this month wiping out $3.1-billion in shareholder value while 2 of its competitors (Take-Two & Activision Blizzard) have seen their stock values go up during the same period.

    Video gamer backlash over EA’s micro-transaction model (as we have previously posted about) on social media over pay-to-win micro-transactions for content that gamers believe believe should be part of the $60 price for the video game appears to be impacting sales of the video game. First-week physical game sales in the U.K. were down 61% as compared with EA’s previous release of “Star Wars Battlefront” 2 years ago. Also, “Battlefront II” is still not on Amazon’s top list of top-100 video game sales year-to-date.

    On Sunday,Stifel analyst Drew Crum wrote in a note to clients, “We were underwhelmed by sell-through for Star Wars: Battlefront II (EA) over the Black Friday weekend, which follows a controversial launch for the game.”

    But, it gets worse: Hawaiian state Reps. Chris Lee and Sean Quinlan have vowed to take action to protect underage kids from the game’s monetization practices. Lee said, “This game is basically a Star Wars-themed online casino designed to lure kids into an addictive cycle of gambling money for a chance to win game upgrades. These exploitive mechanisms have no place in games being marketed to minors, and perhaps no place in games at all.”

    Lee also wrote, “Nothing currently prevents EA from exploiting people buying lootcrates with random contents through microtransactions because there is no requirement to disclose the odds of winning something meaningful, and companies like these are allowed to specifically target youth without the cognitive maturity to know when they are being exploited.”

    Lee & Quinlan are also working with representatives in other states with similar interests to limit these types of video game practices.

    Former EA employee Manveer Heir said in an interview last month, “The reason is that EA and those big publishers in general only care about the highest return on investment. They don’t actually care about what the players want, they care about what the players will pay for.” He also said, “You need to understand the amount of money that’s at play with microtransactions … I’ve seen people literally spend $15,000 on Mass Effect multiplayer cards.”



    Belgian Gaming Commission: Loot Boxes Are Gambling

    #StarWars news: the Belgian Gaming Commission has declared that loot crates in video games like #BattlefrontII & #Overwatch are a form of gambling and is seeking to have them banned in Belgium & Europe at large. In “Star Wars Battlefront II”, a player can purchase a loot crate using experience points or real money in the form of micro-transactions. The micro-transactions have angered many fans of the game, as we shared in two recent posts:

    While EA has since temporarily stopped the use of micro-transactions in the game and also altered the amount of experience points to obtain playable characters, EA had also recently claimed that loot crates aren’t gambling, but the Belgian Gaming Commission doesn’t see it that way.



    To Unlock All Content in “Star Wars Battlefront II” Is Estimated to Take 4,528 Hours of Gameplay or $2100

    #StarWars News: unlocking all content in #EA’s #BattlefrontII will take 4,528 hours of gameplay or $2100. No, we’re not kidding. These numbers were estimated by Soeren Kamper, who broke down the locked content into various categories and the numbers of cards required, the numbers of loot crates for crafting parts and their respective values & costs. We’ll leave it to readers to read his complete breakdown at the referenced link, but it boils down to this:

    “There is a grand total of 324 cards. Upgrading these will require a total of 155,520 crafting parts. This requires opening a grand total of 3,111 loot crates which will require 4,528 hours of gameplay.”

    Alternatively, loot crates can be opened with game crystals. Given that 12,000 game crystals can be purchased for $100 and each loot crate will cost around 80 crystals:

    “Opening the required 3,111 loot crates requires 248,880 crystals. If you only purchase $100 crystal packs, this will cost $2,100.”

    An increasing number of people are choosing to not buy the game and we don’t blame them. As amazing as the advertisements for the game appear, the amount of effort (or cost) to unlock content is beyond anything we have ever seen for any video game.



    “Star Wars Battlefront II” Becomes PR Nightmare for EA Games Due to In-Game Micro-Transactions

    #StarWars news: gamers that were excited about #BattlefrontII coming out are now upset with #EA Games over their planned in-game micro-transactions for unlocking major characters, similar to mobile freemium games, except that this isn’t a freemium game: it’s a paid console video game. The alternative to paying-to-play is to play for an exorbitant number of tedious hours to earn a similar number of points to unlock the characters.

    Many gamers who had or were about to pay $60 US for the privilege of playing the game are either canceling their orders, not planning to purchase the game or calling for an all-out boycott on the game or EA itself.

    After a Reddit user who was furious about in-game purchases necessary to use basic components of the game left a public complaint on the website after he bought the deluxe edition (only to have the main character locked), an EA representative responded with a comment to try and explain EA’s position. Within a matter of hours that EA rep’s comment became the single most down-voted comment in Reddit’s history with over 660,000 down-votes (at the time this post was written), overtaking the previous record holding comment that had over 24,000 downvotes.

    Others on social media are expressing their concerns that EA & Disney (which owns Lucasfilm & the Star Wars franchise) are encouraging children who play the game to gamble. Whether that is true is hard to say, but is adding to the calls for gamers & families to boycott the game.

    This public relations nightmare comes less than one month after EA shut down development of another Star Wars video game (Ragtag) & the studio that had spent several years developing it (Visceral). At the time of the shut down, many said that EA didn’t believe that it would make enough money since it was intended to be a single-player video game.

    In response to the gamer & Reddit backlash, EA had said that they are reducing the number of credits required to unlock game content. The statement posted on EA’s website, made by John Wasilczyk (executive producer at studio DICE), said the company will reduce the number of credits required to unlock those classic saga heroes by 75%.

    How the micro-transaction controversy further impacts the game & sales remains to be seen.