Trace Charm Change In Harry Potter: Wizards Unite Sparks Controversy

In late August, Niantic released an update about the functionality of the Trace Charm in Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. In this update, Niantic corrected what was described as "a number of incorrect stats and descriptions on the Trace Charm screen." These changes, however, were interpreted by the Wizards Unite community as a nerf to the Trace Charm, which was a popular aspect of the game. Now, Niantic has released another update clarifying their intention behind this change to this feature.

Trace Charm Changes in Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. Credit: Niantic
Trace Charm Changes in Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. Credit: Niantic

Niantic wrote in their latest Trace Charm update for Harry Potter: Wizards Unite:

We recognize these changes are different from how the Trace Charm has worked since the SOS Training feature launched, and we understand that players feel that these changes degraded this feature. While the bug fix was unpopular, these corrections were necessary to maintain a balanced progression in the game. When we develop new content, we do so with certain expectations of how long it will take for players to complete it. If we release content too fast, the game will feel stagnant while players wait for the next content release. If we release it too slowly, the game will feel too difficult. This change was required to keep this delicate balance in check. Had these errors gone unresolved, there would be long-term implications for the game. We apologize that some of the previous communications on this topic didn't fully capture the scope of the issues and planned changes.

This rings true for their other popular game, Pokémon GO, which has been adding new features in 2020 to enrich gameplay both for those who choose to play at home and those who enjoy the mobile and social aspects of these Augmented Reality games. Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is, like Pokémon GO, designed to get players out into the real world, so Niantic had a difficult problem to solve in making their games playable to those stuck in quarantine during COVID-19. A major change that Niantic made for Wizards Unite was the introduction of the Knight Bus, using mythology from the Harry Potter books to give players a way to access Wizarding Challenges remotely. The balance of keeping the product fresh and accessible while not making new features ruin the game's balance is, indeed, a struggle that has been felt in both Wizards Unite and Pokémon GO.

As Niantic continues to figure out the future for Wizards Unite and their other AR games in a changing world, Bleeding Cool will follow the progress.

About Theo Dwyer

Theo Dwyer writes about comics, film, and games.