Players of the "Harry Potter: Wizards Unite" augmented reality game can visit Simon properties for extra rewards, Niantic and Simon announced on Monday. The partnership allows Apple, Google and Samsung players to discover sponsored inns and fortresses that provide an advantage over non-sponsored locations, according to a press release.
The game-based experiences will be available at Simon's 200-plus shopping centers across the U.S., including its malls along with Mills and Premium Outlet locations.
Niantic noted that select Simon properties will host live events and QR assignments for players of the Harry Potter game.
Amid a hotly debated retail slump, Simon is embracing the opportunity to get people on its properties, even if they're not purchasing. "We believe the elevated gameplay we're offering as a part of the program will drive traffic and excitement for our properties as well as the brands and retailers at Simon," said Lee Sterling, Simon's senior vice president of brand management.
Target also recently partnered with Niantic to offer Pokemon Pass, a mobile app allowing players of two "Pokemon Go" spinoffs to collect in-game rewards. "Pokemon Go" was an early major success for AR mobile apps, although retailers had mixed feelings about the style of gameplay when it debuted in 2016. Some stores sent people away if they were just there to play the game.
With this partnership, however, Simon Properties is committing to the shopping mall as a social space. Forming a partnership around the new game could pay off for Simon Properties, and the retailers at its locations, if it gains the same level of popularity Pokemon Go did, as players could start heading to locations where they know they'll get more rewards, encouraging more spending at restaurants and retailers along the way.
While other AR applications have focused on helping the customer make a product purchase choice, the mobile game collaboration helps bridge the gap between getting people in the door and, eventually, getting them to spend money. Niantic also announced that 10,000 AT&T and Cricket Wireless stores in the U.S. will host rewards and events related to the Harry Potter game.