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Why Harry Potter: Puzzles and Spells is "the biggest, most robust game Zynga's ever launched"

Creative director Mark Turmell and lead producer Desiree Makowski take us through the many metagame features of the match-3 puzzler
Why Harry Potter: Puzzles and Spells is
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To say that Zynga is going all-in on Harry Potter: Puzzles and Spells feels almost like an understatement - the sheer wealth of content, both already in the game and planned for the future, is utterly staggering.

"It's the biggest, most robust game Zynga's ever launched," creative director Mark Turmell told us during an online preview ahead of the game's launch later today.

And that's not just marketing speak. Puzzle and Spells launches with 1,000 levels in the game, a constantly-updated events system, a robust clan mechanic, collectible creatures, an XP system, and upgradable spells.

Then there's the core gameplay, which takes the match-3 genre and adds additional layers of depth and strategy at every turn. And if that wasn't enough to keep players happy, there's literal years worth of content already in the planning stages, with a weekly update cadence established for new levels.

Yer a wizard

But let's take a step back for a minute. Harry Potter: Puzzles and Spells is Zynga's match-3 take on the Wizarding World, a franchise which has already seen a couple of mobile outings in recent years in the form of Hogwarts Mystery and Wizards Unite.


Unlike those titles, Puzzles and Spells has players working their way through the original Harry Potter story, with each key scene of the films represented in-game by a small collection of levels to play through.

The core game is straightforward match-3 fare - you slide gems to match them together, using a set number of moves to complete objectives and win.

On top of that, each scene will add a new mechanic to that collection of levels. Take the troll encounter from the first Harry Potter film - in Puzzles and Spells, an enormous 3D troll will jump around the gameboard, obstructing the player until they deal enough damage to knock him out for the rest of the level.

You'll also find character medallions on the board, which trigger a range of special effects when brought to the bottom of the level - over 100 characters are in the game already. And the creatures you collect as part of the metagame can be deployed mid-game to give you a helping hand, along with any spells you equip beforehand.

I'm a mage

But it's the metagame where Zynga is really focusing its efforts. Puzzles and Spells is all about long-term retention, with a menu setup that has more in common with Clash Royale than Candy Crush.

Dig through the menus and you'll find events, with daily class events running mid-week alongside longer events and challenges which will constantly update over time.

Clans are also present as "clubs", allowing up to 30 players to join together, chat, and complete club-only challenges, some of which can only be activated by club leaders for limited times.

That last mechanic is particularly interesting - highly-engaged clubs will need to coordinate effectively to ensure they complete the event and score the highest number of trophies possible. It's a far cry from traditional life-swapping casual clans (though players can still send each other lives, of course).

Everyone's a little bit magic

It's a lot to take on board, but it's a sign that Zynga is taking this launch incredibly seriously. The studio isn't just launching an MVP and building from there - it's launching a full product now and continuing to add to it at a regular, weekly pace for the foreseeable future.

Even when the game story hits the end of the Harry Potter franchise - which won't be for several years, Turmell assures us - Zynga is interested in creating its own content to progress the player's story and ensure there's plenty to do.

There's clearly a lot of work being put into Puzzles and Magic from a team that dearly loves the Harry Potter franchise - lead producer Desiree Makowski is a self-confessed Harry Potter superfan, while Turmell describes the team having access to all that the franchise has to offer as being "like kids in a candy store".

And while there are questions hanging in the air over the sway of Harry Potter following the lukewarm launches of Hogwarts Mystery and Wizards Unite, Zynga's take definitely has an incredibly strong game underneath the mask of the IP.