When reading about Pottermore, you have to know that there are two different versions: the pre 2015 Pottermore and the post 2015 Pottermore. These two are very different, so let me try to explain:
The pre 2015 Pottermore was launched in 2011 (limited beta release)/2012 (general release) and was a Sony sponsored website by J. K. Rowling that let people experience the world of Harry Potter. It was an interactive website, which basically means that the users were able to move through the seven Harry Potter books in what was called “a virtual reading experience”, although you didn’t have to read the books to be on Pottermore. You wouldn’t understand much of what was going on, though, if you hadn’t read the books in advance and sometimes you wouldn’t even be able to move on without knowing certain details from the books.
On the website each of the book chapter was divided into two or more interactive “moments” where you were able to get background information on characters, places and objects. In fact, it was said to provide “over 18,000 words of additional content including background details and settings”. Most people didn’t realise that 18,000 words are less than ten pages, though, so it wasn’t very much to begin with.
Still, it was a lot of fun to explore the different interactive moment and you were able to play games and locate and collect different objects including chocolate frog cards, books and galleons that would be added to your trunk or bank account. You’d get your own bank account at Gringotts as well as a wand at Olivander’s and you’d get sorted when you reached Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. I’m a Ravenclaw, of course. Always have been, always will be, no matter how or where I’m sorted. At Hogwarts you were then able to brew potions, duel, hang out in the respective common rooms and compete for the House Cup. While it lasted, Ravenclaw won the House Cup twice and so did Hufflepuff, whereas Slytherin won it three times and Gryffindor only once.
The visual side of Pottermore created by the UK art studio, Atomhawk Design was really nice although the choice of keeping everything dark and shadowy was a bit strange and alienating. The different moments were three-dimensional, though, making it possible to get deep into the layers of each moment, but the shallow background noises made the moments feel empty somehow.
On the website you were able to buy e-book and audiobook versions of the seven Harry Potter novels as well as other Harry Potter related merchandise, and when pre 2015 Pottermore ended, that was about the only feature that was kept. The pre 2015 Pottermore version ended, because the partnership with Sony ended and in September 2015 the new Pottermore was launched.
The new Pottermore was a giant step back. Gone were all the good parts; the comment boards, your trunk with all your books and other things that you had collected, your Gringotts bank account with all the galleons you had earned, your duel and portion brewing abilities and worst of all, all the interactive moments! The only things left were your house and your wand, if you wanted them that is, or you could ask to be sorted again and get a new wand.
Instead of Pottermore being a place where fans went to hang out and to explore
the books and interact with the story, the new Pottermore now contains
news, features, articles and other non-interactive stuff such as previously
unreleased writings by J.K. Rowling. The most “interactive” feature is the shop,
I guess! This way it is no longer a place where you come to play and hang out,
as the only reason to log on is if you want to buy Harry Potter stuff or read
about things like the upcoming movie “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them".
Since Pottermore’s relaunch, two interactive features have been added, though. Users are now able to get sorted into the North American Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry too and to determine their Patronus. The last feature has turned out to be a bad idea, as many users have been so appalled by their Patronus, that they have stopped using Pottermore all together! I do understand them, though, as my Patronis is a Tonkinese Cat and I’m allergic to cats, whereas one of my friends got a Greyhound, despite dogs being her Boggart, i.e. her worst fear.
In any case, what was hinted at in the pre 2015 Pottermore, is now fully clear in the post 2015 Pottermore: the website is not there for your entertainment. It is only there to get you to buy, buy, buy! Happy buying!