According to a report in The Inquirer, Samsung is reportedly investing £31 million (~$40 million) in Niantic, creator of Ingress and Pokémon Go, for Galaxy-exclusive games. The deal supposedly involves pre-loading Niantic’s games on Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones and may be announced in the next few weeks according to a source quoted in the report.
The main attraction of the deal, the report says, is an exclusive Harry Potter game which will use Samsung’s S-Pen as a magic wand. Interestingly, Niantic has already announced Harry Potter: Wizards Unite AR (Augmented Reality) game for 2019. The $40 million investment seems small by the industry standards to acquire exclusive rights of a popular franchise like Harry Potter, so it's possible the Galaxy-exclusive game will merely be a timed exclusive with additional features and optimizations rather than a different title altogether.
Follows Samsung's recent collaboration with Epic Games for Fortnite
The deal is said to also cover Niantic's location-based Ingress game but not Pokémon Go as it's “super protective of that franchise.” Niantic was apparently reluctant to make the deal happen without a substantial investment from Samsung. After deliberations, the companies eventually arrived at the $40 million investment proposal. The deal seems to be driven by Samsung’s desire to differentiate its Galaxy smartphones from other Android brands, while for Niantic, it is about raising money for the planned IPO.
The collaboration, if and when announced, will not be a complete surprise, given Samsung’s recent partnership with Epic Games for the exclusive launch of Fortnite on Android on Galaxy smartphones. Though the exclusivity lasted for only a few days, Samsung continues to bank on the appeal of Fortnite to market the Galaxy Note 9 through various Fortnite-themed marketing campaigns.
However, none of this seemed to have any perceptible difference on the performance of Samsung's smartphone division so far if we go by the recent quarterly results. Fortnite is undoubtedly the biggest gaming title in recent years, and if it can’t drive sales for Samsung, it is doubtful other games can.
If Samsung repeats the strategy adopted for the Galaxy Note 9 launch, we can expect the fruits of the new collaboration at the Galaxy S10 unveiling next year.