While Animal Crossing: New Horizons has been a success in many parts of the world and been finding a large audience, in part due to general anticipation and also due to the current state of affairs with many people at home during the pandemic, there’s one region where people will see a downturn. The Chinese government has now effectively banned Animal Crossing in the region, due to preventing different methods of importing it from selling the game. Specifically, the online auction and vendor site Taobao has been told it can’t sell the game and listings have been removed. [Thanks, Daniel Ahmad!]
This Animal Crossing: New Horizons “ban” means that no Taobao public listings can appear. As Ahmad pointed out, this could be because of multiple reasons. One is because the game hasn’t been officially approved by the government for sale in the region. While imported games do find their way into the country, ones that do and are incredibly popular can draw attention and have listings pulled and be “banned” as a result until there is an approval. The most prominent point is user generated content that could be offensive, violent, or spread a message that regulators consider “offensive” could also be affected.
With Animal Crossing: New Horizons, some players have been sharing screenshots and videos that support Hong Kong and are critical of China’s treatment of it.
This is how #hongkong ppl spend our time during coronavirus lockdown – villain hitting in #animalcrossing, the villain is #CarrieLam, the worst governor in #hongkong history.#AnimalCrossingNewHorizons#StandWithHK pic.twitter.com/K5AbOTl9tD
— Studio Incendo (@studioincendo) April 1, 2020
Like Ahmed noted, this doesn’t mean Animal Crossing: New Horizons can’t be found or played by Nintendo Switch owners in China. There are no locks on it on Chinese or imported systems. It just means it could be a bit more difficult to get a copy if someone doesn’t already own it.
As another interesting aside, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is being used for educational purposes in China. As pointed out by Chinese Nintendo, a teacher used the game to put together math and physics lessons, then shared them on bilibili.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons is available for the Nintendo Switch.