Leading up to the December 2019 Community Day, I knew that turnout would be less than last month, but I did not expect the low numbers we actually experienced. Westside Witches & Wizards, a West Los Angeles, California based community for players of Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, boasted 70+ players at our November Community Day.
We held our meetup in November at a mall in Culver City due to the presence of a Sponsored Fortress, and it was a huge success! We packed the Dining Terrace with players hungry to battle in Wizarding Challenges until we attracted the attention of Mall Security. They asked us to spread out and disperse since our group was so large. Luckily, it was already 2pm so the event was over, and it didn’t affect us too much.
Unfortunately, December’s Community Day for Wizards Unite wasn’t quite as successful.
Wizards Unite December Community Day
We didn’t see any of that excitement or the incredible player turnout for December’s Community Day. This was expected, but it was also disappointing coming off last month’s enthusiasm. We had less than twenty people converge on Westwood, California for our three hour walk.
I have the feeling turnout was like this for many places in the United States as well as around the world. I believe this reality can be attributed to a few main reasons: weather, premise, and timing.
In Southern California, we are very lucky to have extremely mild winters. Our Saturday Community Day was met with temperatures peaking around 63 degree Fahrenheit/17 degree Celsius and overcast skies. It was the perfect temperature for popping on some Hogwarts robes, maybe a Hogwarts House scarf, and walking around for three hours. Some of us did just that!
I still think the weather played a part in our turnout because of the chilly morning temperatures and dreary, grey sky. I know, I know, I know! I can hear the rest of the United States and players in other countries around the world experiencing real winter weather groan with annoyance.
That being said, this is what we are acclimated to, and I think it played a part in keeping some people attached to alternate means of doing the event. I can imagine colder, higher precipitation areas felt the blow to gameplay much more explicitly.
I found the choice to have a walking/outdoors themed Community Day to be extremely bizarre given that such a large percentage of Wizards Unite players are in the dead of winter right now.
Another main aspect of turnout for this Community Day relies heavily on the premise for the event. Many of us are inspired by collecting Exploration Fragments and completing Foundable Family pages in our Registries, but the truth of the matter is that many other people are not invigorated by this aspect of the game. Juxtapose that with the very popular, highly coveted Community Day buffs to Challenge XP during last month’s Community Day, and we can very easily see which parts of the game players value.
There were two focal points for Exploration Fragments and Family Foundable Registry pages for this event: walking around finding the Exploration Fragments as Traces in the wild and unlocking special event Portmanteaus. Event Portmanteaus were color-coded in silver and blue to help players unlock the Challenge Fragment portion of the Hagrid’s Hut Registry page in the Care of Magical Creatures Family. Silver Portmanteaus yielded Portkeys with rewards including the Hagrid’s Hut Fragment and the blue Portmanteaus delivered Portkey rewards including the Abraxan Winged Horse Fragment.
The special 1km Event Portmanteaus were a great feature. They immediately dropped to .5km when a Key was placed into the Portmanteau for unlocking via walking. I really liked this feature as a method of getting Fragments during events. The rewards were great despite the short distance needed to obtain the Portkey. My only complaint is that the Portmanteaus were too few on the map. There were many points during the three hour window where I had empty slots for Portmanteaus because they were not appearing on my walk to be collected.
Similarly, the number of Event Traces felt very low at many points. When you compare this event to October’s Community Day Trace density, it was a striking difference. In October, everywhere you turned there was an Oddity Trace waiting to be returned. It was thrilling and made all three hours feel like an exciting race against the clock. I didn’t feel that for December’s Community Day and, in fact, there were many lulls where we were wondering where our Traces were for collecting.
The comparatively low density for Event Traces and Event Portmanteaus for this event was offset by the buff to the Baruffio’s Brain Elixir. This Potion, whose effects were active during the three-hour Event window, provided three times the normal Wizarding XP from Traces, Portkeys, and Gifts. This was truly the Belle of the Ball for this event and the main driving force for many of the players, myself included. Ideally, the event would have had the density of Traces closer to what we experienced in October with Oddities coupled with the 3X buff to the Baruffio’s Brain Elixir.
Another primary factor that affected this Community Day for Wizard’s Unite was the simultaneous Community Day time slot with Niantic’s popular game Pokémon GO. A substantial portion of our player base comes from people who are already interested in AR games like Pokémon GO and Ingress.
Forcing players to choose between both Community Days meant that many opted to participate with their long-established Pokémon GO Communities. You can hardly blame them. The premise of December’s Wizards Unite Community Day just wasn’t appealing enough to keep Pokémon GO players in our camp for the day.
Our Wizards Unite group walked around Westwood, California and the UCLA campus. We ran into many Pokémon GO players, both solo and groups of varying size, at every turn of our journey. We chatted with them briefly, each side appealing to the other jokingly to come over to the other side, to play the better game, but other than that there was very little crossover between the communities. Some of our Wizards Unite players multi-tasked with Pokémon GO, but the hardcore Pokémon Go players teamed up with that community for the day.
Additionally, we can’t ignore the time of the year. The holiday season is upon us in most of the countries that are home to the witches and wizards playing Wizards Unite. With only two Saturdays left until Christmas, and one Saturday until the beginning of Hanukkah, holiday shopping was a full roar on Saturday, December 14th. Holiday traffic in Los Angeles was daunting, and that probably kept many players in smaller, more localized groups here in Southern California as well as the rest of the United States and world.
With the holidays, many colleges and universities are not in session right now so I am sure some of our players have gone home to see their family where they may be playing solo or meeting up with their hometown groups. All of these factors contributed to what we experienced for turnout for this Community Day.
The Weighing of the Wands (In Conclusion)
With everything considered, and minor Trace and Portmanteaus frequency issues aside, I really liked this Community Day. Even though our group was smaller in number, it felt more intimate, and I felt like I was having more meaningful conversations with those who could attend. I love a bustling, busy Community Day with new members and lots of players, but if ever there was a time to have a close-knit group fight the Calamity under cozy grey clouds then it would be during the holiday season.
After the event was over, our small group reunited with Pokémon GO players at a new restaurant where we spent a few more hours doing Fortress Challenges and loading up Inns with Dark Detectors for rare Traces.
I truly had a lot of fun, and I look forward to seeing future iterations and evolutions of this Community Day’s features.
For another perspective on Community Day, our editor-in-chief filmed a video about her experiences!