Although it feels like it’s been ages, it’s only been three weeks since Niantic first released all that neat Wizards Unite gameplay footage and information. And on that same day, March 11th, Wizards Unite became available for Android pre-registration at the Play Store.
Play Store vs App Store
There were some rumours surrounding the Samsung-Niantic deal (the secret deal, not the wearables deal, of course). But otherwise everything seemed to indicate Wizards Unite would be available for download for both Android and iOS. So, as expected, iPhone users were suddenly concerned to a Troll-in-the-Dungeon degree. Where they getting kicked out of Hogwarts? Was Android the only one getting the game?
App Store terms and conditions
So this was the first logical explanation SoS Task Force members-in-training found for this issue. Apple’s terms and conditions for developers are quite strict. Especially when it comes to Apps offered for pre-order. Here’s an excerpt of the pre-order terms for developers, (which you can find right here):
New apps on all Apple platforms can be made available for pre-order when you submit your app and metadata for review in App Store Connect.
When you opt in, you’ll choose a download release date that’s two to 90 days in the future. Once your app is released for download, customers are notified and it will automatically download to their device within 24 hours.
So as you can see, if the App is on pre-order Niantic only has 90 days to release it. In full. To every country where pre-order was available.Which would mean a world-wide release.
This is why the main theory for iOS not getting pre-order at that point was time concerns. 90 days would set the release date for early June at the latest. This doesn’t really match what we know about the App so far. So knowing that, no-one was expecting Wizards Unite up for pre-order at the App Store for a while still.
Play Store terms and conditions
But lo and behold, the same terms apply to Play Store games on pre-registration. And Wizards Unite pre-registration has been open since March 11th.
This is what Google has to say about pre-registered apps:
To use pre-registration, you need to have an APK uploaded to at least one release track in the Play Console.
After you make an app or game available for pre-registration in a country, you need to launch it there within 90 days.
So as much as we’d love to believe Wizards Unite is only some 68 days away, I really don’t think that will be the case. Which means there is definitely something funky going on, and Niantic probably has a Boggart up its sleeve.
The holes in the loops: Beta apk
Now here’s the thing. Niantic will release the game for both Android and iOS. There’s really no doubt there. And unless something very strange happens, the release should be on the same day for both. So why open pre-registration only for Android users?
Here’s what we think: Niantic is a very powerful company, backed by Warner Bros and Portkey Games. There are millions of Harry Potter fans out there waiting for the App to come out. So perhaps Google is willing to bend the rules for Niantic in a way Apple won’t. They might’ve found a loophole in the pre-registration terms and conditions.
And that loophole probably comes in the shape of the word ‘launch’.
They have to launch 90 days after pre-registration becomes available, but what does launch really mean? We think the Wizards Unite beta version might qualify as a launch here. This would only force them to release the beta before June, and they could delay the wide release until they were comfortable with the game’s performance.
Why pre-register at all?
Pre-registration for Wizards Unite serves several purposes, in our opinion:
- It allows the company to gauge players’ interest in the game. It could give them a pretty accurate idea of how many users will download the App as soon as it is released. And we all expect this to be a massive number. They’ll want to make sure they servers and the game are ready for that kind of traffic.
- It gives Niantic an easy way to find beta testers, since the moment we sign up for pre-release google knows what device we will play on, where we live or what other games we play among many other things. The beauty of technology.
- It stops us from nagging. We are all tired of waiting, and many were starting to get upset or lose interest in the game. Now we have something real. We are pre-registered, We know we’ll get the game as soon as it releases. We even have a chance to become beta testers. So for the time being, Niantic has managed to appease the masses, at least partially
The reason behind that ‘device not compatible’ message
While researching the 90-day conundrum, we might have figured out, at least partially, why some people got a ‘device not compatible’ message when trying to pre-register for Wizards Unite. Within the Play Store rules for developers, there was a little tidbit about mobile devices.
Note: Your APK needs to contain the device manifest restrictions for your pre-registration campaign and upcoming launch. Users who fit the criteria specified in your APK will be able to pre-register, so use the APK to control who can pre-register for your app. If needed, you can update this criteria during the course of a pre-registration campaign, and it won’t affect users who’ve already pre-registered.
So when Niantic made pre-registration available, they put some limits on compatible devices. That means someone somewhere made a list of what our devices would need in order to be considered compatible (Bluetooth, geolocation, android version…). This, of course, only limits pre-registration. They can change the criteria at any point or allow all devices to download once the game is widely released. So if you’re the fretting kind, do not fret yet. Your phone might still transport you into the magical Harry Potter AR world.
When the 90 days end
If we count 90 days from March 11th, which is when the game first became available on the Play Store, that leaves us June 6th as the end date. June 6th is a Sunday, so that would probably mean a June 4th release at the latest, since they won’t release the game on a Sunday.
Still, we think June 6th is entirely too soon for a wide release if they want to beta-test first. We are already in April, after all. So our guess is only the beta release will fall within those 90 days and the wide release will come further into the summer.
This could also mean that, once the App becomes available for pre-order at the App Store we can probably set our countdown clocks for the wide release. Niantic will probably stick to the timeline with iOS.
So what do you think? Are you holding out hope for an early-june release? Do you think it will only be a beta release before the deadline? Let us know in the comments!