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|Release date(s)||NA=September 2, 2008
EU=March 3, 2009
AU=March 3, 2009
AS=October 17, 2009
SA=January 31, 2010
TW=April 27, 2012 – October 15, 2015
CN=July 11, 2012 – November 1, 2015
Wizard101 is an MMORPG created by KingsIsle Entertainment. Players take on the role of students of Witchcraft and Wizardry to save the Spiral, the fictional universe in which the game is played, and battle enemies by casting spells using a turn-based combat system similar to collectible card games.
The game has a sister game called Pirate101.
The fictional universe of the Spiral is divided into several worlds, each of which has multiple areas. Players can unlock these temporarily with "memberships", or unlock each area permanently with the game's premium currency "Crowns". When a wizard first starts the game, he or she will have to choose a school: Ice, Storm, Fire, Death, Life, Myth, and Balance, each complete with their own set of unique spells.
The game is based around "duels": two teams made up of one to four players or computer enemies who take turns casting spells. Spells can reduce the health of enemy creatures, increase the health of friends, add shields which reduce damage, add blades, traps and buffs which increase damage, and more. When a player reduces a computer enemies' health to zero, they are defeated, while players with a health of zero can be healed by others on their team. When every player or computer on a team has zero health, the other team wins.
As the player progresses, more worlds become available. When wizards level up they gain new badge titles and automatic increases of their base statistics: health, mana and energy. Most equipment also has level restrictions. Hobbies such as training pets, fishing and gardening require energy; while crafting not only requires that, but also various resources. Duels can be played against other players in the PvP arena.
The game offers a choice of either a subscription or a "Free-to-Play" option with microtransactions. Free-to-Play customers can purchase access to different areas of content using in-game currency called Crowns. Such areas only need to be purchased once, but other actions in the game may be necessary before accessing them. Crowns also can be used to buy in game exclusive items and access PvP tournaments. The fee for PvP tournaments vary depends on whether the player has existing member subscription. Crowns can be purchased by a game card or from the online store, or earned in small amounts through SuperRewards.
Subscriptions unlock all playable worlds, as well as allowing players to compete in ranked PvP matches and Pet Derby races, store more items in their backpack and gain the ability to post on the Wizard101 Message Board, along with other minor benefits.
In the European version of Wizard101, players are able to buy Subscriptions or Bundles with Crowns.
Also, certain areas and dungeons in Wizard101 can be rented for a certain period of time such as the 6-hour rentals for Mount Olympus, Atlantea, and Tartarus in Aquila. PvP and Pet Derby can be rented as well. A certain amount of crowns per match or a certain amount per day.
Due to its young core audience, Wizard101 restricts player interaction when compared to other games in the massively multiplayer online genre. There are three different types of chat: Menu Chat, Open Chat and Text Chat. Menu Chat only allows the player to choose from a variety of predetermined phrases or sentences and prevents them from typing anything else in chat. In Text Chat, what a player types can be seen by every other wizard in the area either from a word bubble on top of the speaker's head or in the chat box. Private Chat is when a wizard wishes to speak in private to another wizard. This appears on the screen in a transparent box to the left. The age of the player directly correlates to the communication allowable. When typed, words that appear in white are words that everyone is able to view. Yellow words can only be seen by players who have their account set to "Open Chat". Open Chat is obtained when a player identifies him or herself as 18 years or older by using their credit card. Red words are not allowed and can be seen by no one, not even the player themselves. If an adult chatter types red or yellow words, younger players will see ellipses (...) in place of the word. Red words include not only profanity, but also words that would allow players to share real life information with each other including phone numbers, their ages, or real world locations.
Another aspect of the game is the ability for players to fight each other, either in Practice dueling, which is free, or Ranked dueling, which must be purchased with Crowns. Unlike Practice matches, Ranked matches affect the player's ranking badge or title and grant the victor or victors Arena Tickets, yet another type of in-game premium currency. Duels between players are available only in a special player versus player arena designated for the purpose. The PvP arena can be found upon entry to Unicorn Way from the Commons in Wizard City, in some houses, and within Outer Yard in Avalon.
Rewards for combat or completing a quest are distributed automatically amongst a group, if players decide to stay together, so players need not argue over spoils. Players may trade a special type of spell card called a treasure card, which is a spell card that can be rearranged by clicking the golden card icon in their spellbook and then can be used in battle when the player discards cards and then clicks draw. These cards can only be used once, and can be used by any player from any school of Magic. A treasure card is typically stronger than the normal variant of the card. This spell will disappear from the player's spell deck once it is used. So far the players are currently unable to trade items other than treasure cards between one another (it is possible, however, to trade most items to one's other wizards on the same account, through the use of a shared bank).
Online safety features
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Parents must activate controls for players under 13, including setting levels for interaction with other players in the world. Three different levels of chat are available. At the most restricted level, players select from a menu of pre-defined phrases, and players using this option can only see menu chat from other players. At the next level, players may type what they want, as long as the words are available in the game’s dictionary. If a word is not present in the dictionary, or part of a forbidden phrase, such as asking another player’s age, it will not be visible. If players know each other outside the game, they can use a true friend code to allow less-restricted chat inside the game. However, it is still subject to some restrictions. Additionally, players choose names for their characters from a list that allows selection of a first name and a one- or two-part surname. The official game forums are filtered and moderated. Finally, at player request, KingIsle Entertainment added open chat for players aged 18 years and above, an age limit verified through credit cards, which allows everything except profanities to be said. Also, when you meet someone you don't know who is behind the screen, they block you from saying "How old are you" in the text chat.
Other features have been designed with a pre-teens audience in mind, for example; opponents in combat disintegrate or vanish, and there is no blood.
According to a press release published in May 2008, the development of Wizard101 began in 2005, upon the founding of KingsIsle Entertainment under the creative direction of J. Todd Coleman. The game entered open beta on August 6, 2008, and it launched successfully on September 2, 2008. On August 25, 2010, it was announced that Wizard101 would be released in foreign territories later that year.
Wizard101 launched a European Beta version on December 15, 2010 and then released the game on February 15, 2011, in partnership with Gameforge. This eventually included releases of the game in English, French, Italian, Spanish, German, Polish and Greek. It was announced on August 17, 2011 that KingsIsle and Taomee Holdings Limited had an agreement to launch Wizard101 in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau. Wizard101 Taiwan officially launched on April 27, 2012, with the others to follow. In July 2013, those servers stopped updating. In April 2015, Wizard101 Taiwan announced that it would shut down on May 25, 2015, but the date was rescheduled to October 15, 2015. Wizard101 China announced its shutdown date as November 1, 2015.
According to KingIsle Entertainment's press releases, the game has experienced a steady growth in the number of players: 2 million in April 2009, 5 million in September 2009, 10 million players by June 2010, 15 million by January 2011, 20 million by July 2011, and 30 million by July 2013. As of November 2014, there are currently about 50 million players. In terms of reception, the game currently scores an average of 77.5% from ratings on GameRankings. GameShark reviewer Toni Dimayuga noted the game's overall ambiance and graphic setting as well as the overall fun nature of Wizard101 in the pro column, while the combat (in particular defeats) and the restrictive (at the time of the review) nature of chat were seen as the major minus points.
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