The team behind Pottermore—the official Harry Potter website and online community—made a few announcements this morning that will disappoint those die hard fans who have been waiting expectantly for access to the site and the official ebooks.
Phased access starting in late October
In a blog post on Pottermore Insider, they refined their original “opening in October” announcement as follows:
Since the launch of the Beta, we’ve seen really high levels of activity, and interaction with the site has been phenomenal. This affects how quickly we can give everyone access. As a result, we’ve decided to extend the Beta period beyond September and take a different approach to the way new users are brought onto the site.
From the end of October, registration will be opened to everyone and we’ll be giving access to registered users in phases. Access may be granted quickly, but please note it could also take some weeks or months, depending on demand.
I believe their claim about high levels of activity. I scored one of the early accounts back in the first week of August, but didn’t get access until just a few weeks ago. The first time I tried to log on, I was rejected due to server traffic. The second time I tried a day later, I got on but the site took forever to load screens. As noted in today’s status update, at least one highly popular part of the site—the Wizard’s Duel—has been disabled because it’s too popular and/or buggy.
No ebooks until 2012
The other big delay is in the ebook and audiobook store that’s supposed to accompany the site. Now instead of opening in October with the site, the online store won’t open until sometime in the first half of 2012—which means it could be as late as next summer before you can buy Harry Potter in ebook format.
What you’re missing
I recorded my first few moments on the site to share with everyone, so here’s a video and some screen captures. There are more detailed previews and tours all over YouTube now, but I attempted to highlight some of the ways the original new writing is being integrated into the site. (The swoosh-zoom effects are mine, in order to show you close-up details.)
In general, although I thought the design was great, I was left underwhelmed by the overall experience. But I’m probably not the ideal target audience by either age or enthusiasm, and the site was running a little slow the day I poked around.
Maybe this new phased launch strategy will give Sony time to make the experience faster and smoother for true HP fans. Unfortunately, some of those fans now may have to wait until 2012 to get a first-hand glimpse of Pottermore.