3DS: Another Mobile Marketing Platform?

Written by Michael Whittington

It’s no secret I’m a geek.

On this very mobile marketing blog I went on a pretentious rant about the role of QR codes in the gamification of society. I also got much too excited when I saw the footage of a QR code appearing in Dungeon Defenders. But Dungeon Defenders isn’t the only game to hide QR codes within. In fact, it wasn’t even the first one. Gearbox’s 2009 blockbuster hit Borderlands also hid QR codes in the game’s world with some merely containing text messages promoting the in-game weapons dealers and others leading to official internet resources for the game including the game’s official site.

The relationship between QR codes and seemingly unrelated software doesn’t stop there. Sometimes the mobile marketing solution doesn’t take you from the software but rather it brings you to the software. For example, Androinica.com is using a mobile marketing campaign to promote their Key Ring Rewards Card. Users can simply scan a QR code and they’re prompted to download the official application.

Android Rundown has their own mobile marketing campaign providing QR codes that will download free games from the app store when scanned. It’s not very hard to do this using an online QR code generator especially considering all of the free games they’re linking to were developed and published by other companies. It’s also evident that society is caught in a downward spiral as Touch SexyGirls Undress has more downloads than the timeless Pinball and Solitaire titles.

That brings me to the inspiration for this mobile marketing blog entry. Last week a developer called SmileBoom Co. released a downloadable application called Petit Computer for the Nintendo 3DS and DSi handhelds. It, in itself, is fascinating. It allows you to create games and other programs using the obsolete but still fun BASIC programming language. Once you’ve created a program you can use mobile marketing software to share it with the world. SmileBoom has developed a converter that reads your saved programs off of an SD card and uses online encryption to turn them into QR codes. When someone scans one of these codes, they’ll be able to use your custom program.

I was pretty much smitten, but as I continued my research I discovered that Petit Computer was not the first video game to share content using QR codes. Pullblox (otherwise known as Pushmo in the PAL region) is a puzzle game developed by Intelligent Systems. The game, which is also downloadable via the 3DS, has a feature that allows players to create custom puzzles in addition to the ones already included in the game. Like Petit Computer, these custom puzzles can be packaged into QR codes and posted on the internet for all to see. Gaming blogs and forums are now littered with mobile marketing solutions posted by the game’s niche audience.

Less than a decade ago, if I wanted to show one of my friends my custom park in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater I would have to bring my memory card over to their house or they would have to come over to mine. Now it’s as simple as encoding the data via mobile marketing software with online encryption technology and posting it online. It’s also shared with far more people than a couple of goofy friends who you’d go on to form a band with only to part ways and form a new band later with more dedicated, less emotionally volatile people. Wow - perhaps writing these mobile marketing blogs is as much therapy for me as they are entertainment for you.

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