With over 1M downloads, Japan’s Barcode Footballer features a brilliant gimmick



I don’t play too many sports games on mobile, but recently I thought it might be time to finally give Japan’s Barcode Footballer a look. It’s available on both iOS and Android, and has been around since late last year. It’s a soccer team management game, where you collect different players and formations in an effort to build the best possible team.

But the most clever thing about this game is the way that it uses the bar codes from ordinary products as a means of creating unique players (more than 3 trillion can be made) with their own special look and skills. In some cases, as you can see in my short video demo below, the name of your new player is often based on the product you chose. The first thing I scanned was a pack of Macadamia chocolates, and the player’s name ended up being Macadamia! I realize that the technology behind this is far from rocket science, but it still left me with a pretty big grin on my face.

The game, developed by Cybird, is still only available in Japan, but it has been fairly popular here, ranking well in the the sports category as you might expect. Just last week the title surpassed 100 million downloads, which is pretty good for a game in this genre.

The use of bar codes here is a really clever way to execute a sort of gacha, and I’d love to see this kind of thing pop up in more games. Of course, there are lots of games that implemented barcodes in the past, but apparently not too many for smartphones yet.