Download Play; Could It be a Fantastic 3DS Marketing Tool?

As you saw in the earlier article about Luigi’s Mansion Dark Moon, apparently download play can be used to give someone the entirety of a game’s multiplayer mode and let them use it independently of the host player.  But is it possible that something like this could be taken much further and used as a really clever 3DS marketing tool?

Forget using download play for multiplayer for a minute. Imagine if instead, you could download the whole game someone was playing for free via download play and play it whenever you liked and an unlimited amount of times too.

Bowser Castle MK7


Above: Play Download Play with Mario Kart 7 owner, get free copy of Mario Kart 7.  Could be an interesting marketing strategy…

I know, it sounds crazy and like something that’d drive Nintendo to the poor house, but listen to me a bit here.  First and most importantly, you can’t use download play without a 3DS system.  So while they would in theory be making a loss on the game itself, they might make up for it by selling more actual systems to people incentivised by the possibility of getting free games out of the bargain.  So while the sales of the games chosen might be a bit lower than they would be otherwise, the sales of the console itself might go up because of it.  That’s good when you consider that Nintendo now makes a profit on the system itself.



Above: Nintendo doesn’t make a loss on these any more.

Additionally, you have to ask yourself how many of these downloaders would have bought it any way.  Many people are a lot more willing to try an experimental game or new genre if they’re not really paying out money for it, right?  So while it might be a bit of a mistake to give away 2D Mario or Pokemon games in this fashion, it could easily be used to boost visibility of franchises like Kirby, Metroid, F-Zero or Wario Land/WarioWare in a way they’d never otherwise get.  Maybe then some of the people who tried these series by downloading the game for free might then find they enjoy it and actually pay money for the next game in the franchise.

Star Fox 64 3D


Above: More people might try a Star Fox game like this if they could get it for free, right?

But with the idea of free games and download play, some people are probably wondering ‘why not just use demos or the eShop?’  Well my answer to this is as follows:

1. Demos are not a big incentive to buy a system, nor are they something that would catch people’s attention.  Meanwhile, something as ‘insane’ as the ‘free games’ thing proposed above would turn far more heads than offering a demo on the eShop ever would.

2. This isn’t just about the cost of the games or getting people to try them out, it’s about bringing the fans together.  You make it so people can either download the whole game for nothing as a promotion on the eShop or the like, you don’t encourage the whole community aspect as much as you would if they actually had to leave the house or work place to get them.  This type of required socialising would be an absolutely massive benefit for things like StreetPass groups, clubs, the modern equivalent of arcades, etc.  It might give Nintendo a positive reputation too, unlike the likes of EA and Zygna trying desperately to turn video games into a permanently internet only thing with constant in game purchases.

And from a business sense, such a deal would work better through something local like download play or the like because it would encourage gamers to go to places frequented by other gamers/Nintendo fans.  Like I don’t know, video game shops or conventions or the like where a significant amount more games and things are sold, where there are demos for the next few 3DS and Wii U games due out soon and where people might be a tad more likely to spend money on games.  After all, isn’t it easier to justify buying something at an event or when you’re actually in a shop rather than when you have to seek it out online and wait for it to be delivered?

So really, I think using download play to let people get free copies of a game someone else owns could be a pretty interesting and even viable marketing tactic for the 3DS.    And it’d be a great way to encourage fans to do things like attend events, bring their 3DS console with them at all times, etc.

What do you think? Would you be more likely to go to fan events and things if you could use download play to get full copies of certain 3DS games for free there?  And could this be a potential long term way to encourage fans to try out lesser known Nintendo franchises rather than to just play Mario, Zelda and Pokemon titles?


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7 years ago

Today, March 18th 2013, It’s senseless

7 years ago

I think you make an interesting point, but it is largely impractical as you said: it would drive Nintendo and others to the poor house. Sure, certain people who would not buy the game would download it for free. But, all the people who would’ve bought the game would now not do so, if they can get the same thing for free. Not to say that certain aspects of this couldn’t work. Personally, I think the downloading of demos is a very nice feature. For some, it’s made me want to buy the game. Others, not, but having a test… Read more »