Splatoon 3’s QR codes on in-game illustrations cause concern among players

Splatoon 3 lets players freely walk around its new setting of Splatsville which is dotted with other players. Approaching these players will display illustrations they’ve made which keeps the hub lively with user-generated content.

Because these illustrations can be made as relatively high-resolution pixel art, it’s also possible to insert valid QR codes into them. And when using support tools, these in-game illustrations can get even more complex. This has led to users warning of the dangers of untrusted QR codes.

Tweet Translation:
Hey! If you see a QR code in the hub area, do not scan and click it! You have no idea what kind of site or video it could lead to! It’s no laughing matter and worst-case scenario could force you to buy something! Stop it!

Of course, no trouble can come from just seeing a QR code in one of these messages as long as you don’t scan them with a smartphone or other device. While it doesn’t look like there have been reports of codes posted within Splatoon 3 causing harm as of now, there’s always the possibility that scanning a random or untrusted QR code could link to an unsafe website.

As for why there’s been concern over these messages with QR codes, there was a message gaining attention in Japan the other day that contained an image of a famous actor with a QR code next to it. In Splatoon 3, the more reactions a message receives, the more players it gets shared with. Because of this, the message started to go viral within the game. The message was later deleted by Nintendo for “content that includes advertising,” which goes against the Nintendo account user agreement.

Judging by the reactions of users, the QR code link appears to not have been dangerous, but if this sort of thing were to catch on, it might only be a matter of time before nefarious users post harmful links.

The Splatoon series has featured illustration submissions since the first game, and as bad actors have appeared, Nintendo has had to take them down. Splatoon 2 also had messages posted that contained QR codes but those didn’t go viral like the aforementioned example in Splatoon 3.

Splatoon 3 stipulates that images posted with its in-game tools can’t include advertising, violence, copyright infringing content, or content that goes against social standards. While including QR codes in an image isn’t outright forbidden, it’s likely that using the tool to lead people to a specific website is brushing against these rules.

At any rate, plenty of players seem to be able to enjoy submitting illustrations within the confines of the rules. But out of consideration for safety, it’s probably best not to scan any QR codes you might come across from other players.

Written by. Nick Mosier based on the original Japanese article (original article’s publication date: 2022-10-06 10:55 JST)