How and why Wizards Unite uses a lot of mobile data

And how you can save some data by preloading the game on WiFi

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Wizards Unite Daily Update Analysis

[Update]: As of Wizards Unite v0.8.0, it is possible to preload the entirety of Wizards Unite assets on your device, removing the necessity to use any tricks to preload. The article below is still an accurate explanation on why Wizards Unite data usage is so high, but we urge players to use the new built-in option rather than methods outlined in our Tips & Tricks section. The option is available from Suitcase > Settings > Download All Assets and will allow you to download all 2300-ish assets (roughly 2.2 GB in size).


 

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A lot of players asked us why Wizards Unite spends so much mobile data, despite it being a relatively simple mobile game. In order to answer this question, I’ve spent the weekend researching how and when the game loads assets and what are those assets actually.

Basics of 3D

A typical Wizards Unite 3D object, let’s say the Hungarian Horntail, consists of the following items:

  • Mesh: the 3D skeleton that defines the shape of the object
  • Texture: a 512×512 PNG file that defines object’s colors
  • Specular map: a 512×512 PNG file that defines object’s highlights and shadows
  • Bump map: a 512×512 PNG file that defines object’s bumps and wrinkles
  • Animation clips: Unity scripts that define animations that the object performs in the game
Hungarian Horntail model elements. From left to right: specular map, texture, bump map.
Hungarian Horntail model elements. From left to right: specular map, texture, bump map.

All of these files are relatively large, and in the case of the Hungarian Horntail, the complete data usage breaks down like this:

Elements of the Hungarian Horntail 3D model
Mesh 1.15 MB
Texture 458 KB
Specular map 459 KB
Bump map 434 KB
Animation clips ~ 600 KB

When you combine all of these assets, you get the following result:

Hungarian Horntail
Hungarian Horntail

Pretty sweet, right? Well, it is, but you’ve just spent 3 MB of data to show a dragon on your device. And there’s like 10 different recolors of dragons in this game. Not sweet.

How Wizards Unite downloads assets

As most modern games, the Wizards Unite game client that gets delivered to your device via the App store is fairly empty.

The majority of models, sprites, sounds and textures are downloaded from Niantic’s remote servers on demand. As you’ve seen above, these files are not small and they range anywhere from 30 kilobytes to 4 megabytes, depending on their content. Surprisingly, the raw models tend to be huge and we’ll try to remedy this in the next paragraph.

The total size of assets is 1.37 gigabytes and you will eventually have to download all of them. Fortunately, the majority of the assets is cached on your device and will be downloaded only when the game requires it.

This process cannot be avoided and all of the assets need to be loaded eventually, it can be mitigated somewhat by initially loading the game on WiFi. This will reduce overall data usage by loading the initial set of assets on your device, but it will not save you from loading encounter specific assets.

How to save (some) data

As most modern games, Wizards Unite ships only with a subset of icons and UI elements needed for the actual game. The rest of the visual elements is downloaded after first load, (on demand) and this is where you can save some data.

As you open the game, you will notice that several areas of the Registry don’t have any icons yet. They’re simply not yet loaded. So what can we do to force the game to download them?

We can simply use the game and click around!

Navigating through the Registry will force the game to load icons and texture which are used to display it. If you have unlocked Registry items, you can click on them and enter the AR photo mode, forcing the game to load the appropriate 3D model, textures and animations that go with it.

If my measurements are correct, you can preload around 200 MB with no discovered Registry items, and probably a lot more with a filled registry.

Tips and Tricks

  • Be careful about your data usage if you’re playing Wizards Unite
  • Be aware that the game downloads high quality, high resolution visual assets on demand
  • You can preload some of them by clicking through the Registry and forcing the game to load models
  • Be aware that the overall data footprint is much higher than Pokemon GO

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Mastermind Menoblack
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Mastermind Menoblack

Much higher than Pokemon go? When very active, Pokemon can use 1 gig+ a month (with all possible files cached beforehand), how much does this use after downloading all assets?

Joe Marsh
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Joe Marsh

A friend tried to download all assets and it said not enough space even tho she has 12GB spare…

AquarianDragon
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AquarianDragon

My current billing cycle started Monday, June 24th. At 11:00 am on Thursday, June 27th I’ve already gone through 0.446 GB playing WU primarily, only doing a spin and catch on PoGO and a few hacks in Ingress. Usually between PoGO and Ingress I stay under 3 GB. So WU is a problem for folks who don’t have unlimited plans.