- AT&T is the first brand to sponsor "Harry Potter: Wizards Unite," the mobile game that combines characters from the popular fantasy franchise with the augmented reality (AR) playability of "Pokémon Go," Ad Age reported. AT&T stores appear as "inns" and "fortresses" in the game.
- Cricket Wireless, the AT&T-owned provider of prepaid cellular plans, will be added to the game on July 15. When the rollout is complete, players can visit the more than 10,000 AT&T and Cricket stores to recharge their energy level, find challenges or see virtual wizards and magical creatures.
- As part of last year's acquisition of Time Warner, AT&T gained the video game rights to "Harry Potter." Its WB Games division collaborated with game developer Niantic, creator of "Pokémon Go," to release the new game last week.
As the first sponsor of "Harry Potter: Wizards Unite," AT&T could see greater foot traffic to its stores as players gather as part of the location-based game. The sponsorships are reminiscent of Sprint's marketing efforts around "Pokémon Go," which popularized the idea of urging mobile users to explore their real surroundings while playing a mobile game.
The sponsorship smartly taps into the release of a highly anticipated game. "Harry Potter: Wizards Unite" hit No. 1 on Apple's App Store and Google Play stores on its first day of release with roughly 400,000 downloads, and generated about $300,000 from in-app purchases, per analytics firm Sensor Tower. However, the firm said those numbers lag compared to "Pokémon Go," which generated 7.5 million downloads and $2 million on its first day. Still, the mobile AR market is set to generate more than $3.5 billion this year, according to a forecast from Nielsen-owned analytics firm SuperData, and continues to be a crucial playing field for mobile marketers looking to engage younger, mobile-savvy consumers.
Gaming apps drove 74% of spending in app stores last year, demonstrating the power of gaming content among mobile users, per analytics firm App Annie. The company found that 33% of all mobile downloads worldwide consisted of gaming apps, which also made up 10% of the total time spent on mobile devices. In another gaming move, AT&T this year became the founding sponsor of a mobile esports league called the ESL Mobile Open, created by esports organizer and producer ESL.