Samsung Pays $40M To Turn S Pen Into Harry Potter's Magic Wand: Report

Samsung reached a partnership agreement with Pokemon Go maker Niantic Labs that will see the customers of the South Korean technology giant enjoy a period of exclusive access to select smartphone games moving forward, the Inquirer reports, citing a person familiar with the development. Samsung is understood to be paying some $40 million for the privilege of having future Niantic games come pre-loaded on its Android-powered Galaxy devices, with the collaboration being meant to start with the San Francisco, California-based studio's Harry Potter mobile game subtitled Wizards Unite.

The said title is understood to be specifically optimized for the Galaxy Note-series devices whose owners will be able to use the S Pen stylus as a magic wand, according to the same report. The deal also includes some Galaxy-specific optimizations of Niantic's 2013 game Ingress, though Pokemon Go isn't part of the agreement. While not many details on the Pokemon Go aspect of the negotiations were provided, Niantic is understood to have refused the idea of limiting access to certain Pokemon Go features for the benefit of Samsung's Galaxy devices since that game is still performing admirably, largely thanks to its massive global audience. The deal is being described as highly beneficial for both sides; Samsung has been placing a larger focus on mobile gamers over the last several high-end smartphone lineups, whereas Niantic is in need of cash that will pave the way for an initial public offering the company is pursuing, the same insider claims.

Whether the aforementioned $40-million sum will be paid in installments or not is unclear, though the agreement itself might be announced before the end of the year as its details have already been finalized. Still, the source of the claims speculates the two firms may be more inclined to wait until the 2019 edition of Mobile World Congress, a Barcelona-based trade show which is kicking off in late February and is expected to be the venue where Samsung announces its next flagship offerings in the form of the Galaxy S10 series.

Background: Samsung's recent mobile marketing efforts have been largely focused on gaming, at least on the flagship front, with the Galaxy Note 9 recently debuting alongside an Android port of Fortnite which was introduced as a timed Galaxy exclusive. The company committed a lot of money toward advertising the Galaxy Note 9 as the ultimate mobile gaming solution in a bid to make its phablet range more attractive to a younger demographic. The upcoming foldable handset Samsung is expected to unveil in the first quarter of 2019 is also rumored to place a large focus on Android games.

Impact: Assuming the new report is accurate, Niantic's Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is likely to launch in March, at least on select Samsung Galaxy devices. The American studio has so far been vague on its actual release window, save for saying it's aiming to have the game out at some point next year. If the supposed partnership is similar to the one Samsung made with Epic Games, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is likely to remain a Galaxy device exclusive until at least mid-2019.

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Dominik Bosnjak

Senior Writer
Dominik started at AndroidHeadlines in 2016. He’s approaching his first full decade in the media industry, with his background being primarily in technology, gaming, and entertainment. These days, his focus is more on the political side of the tech game, as well as data privacy issues, with him looking at both of those through the prism of Android. Contact him at [email protected]