Thursday, June 23, 2011

Pottermore Site Goes Live - Promptly Crashes and Burns

I just happened to be up early this morning when the big announcement was made. Besides the fact that JK's finally jumping on the ebook bandwagon, not much else was clear. Is Pottermore an online encyclopedia, is it a MMO game, is it some sort of hybrid, or perhaps it's just another way to cash in on the Harry Potter brand?

I only bring up that last possibility because the site seems so ill thought out. When I tried to sign up for the beta trail the site loaded fine, but I couldn't click on the link to submit my e-mail. I tried a different browser and got the same thing. Finally, I was able to get the e-mail submittal window to open up by right clicking on the link and opening it in a new window. But alas, by the time I figured out that stupid, blurry recaptcha thing, the site had crashed, returning only a text error message. The site now seems to be fluctuating between being completely down and just not being able to accept e-mails (see screenshot to the left).

Maybe I'm being a little sarcastic, but in all the meetings--both management and technical--that must have been going on to get this setup, didn't someone think to suggest, "umm, this website might be really popular...I'm talking really popular." I mean, I can understand technical difficulties, but the site had only been up for a few minutes and half the country was still asleep!

This outage isn't the only reason I'm concerned; if you're lucky enough to get the first page to come up, you will not be impressed. The background image looks like it was drawn by a high school student offering $25 fan art via his Deviant Art account (not to knock all DA artists, some of them our great). The only reason you can tell it''s even supposed to be a scene from Harry Potter is the owl. Without it, it just looks like a poorly lit stone room with no decorations, & no detail. In fact, there's nothing outside the windows (even clouds or a sky) for that matter.

To me, the saddest part is seeing the words, " By J. K. Rowling" right above the message, "Due to overwhelming demand, we cannot take your email address right now. Please be patient and come back later." It seems to me that the quality of the Harry Potter brand has gone steadily downhill since the ill-fated release of the Harry Potter DVD game. I mean, you can even find Harry Potter junk stuff at your local 99 cent store.

Don't get me wrong, Jo's got every right to cash in on her work--and keep cashing in over, and over, and over. But, it seems to me that the Harry Potter brand is getting a little tarnished.

I just hope Pottermore doesn't come to epitomize this decline. Come on Joe, pull in the reins on the Potter cash cow; you books stood for quality--don't let that slip away!

1 comment:

  1. Hmm, yeah, it does seem a bit like trying to wring out a few more bucks out of the whole Potter mania thing. I do like HP a lot myself (the movies and books), but I think the merchandising and spinoffs are a little cheesy.