Nintendo doesn’t want politics in ‘Animal Crossing: New Horizons’

Nintendo has issued a formal set of guidelines for Animal Crossing: New Horizons following the game becoming a platform for commercial and political interests.

With regards to the large number of players the game has, it makes sense that some individuals and businesses have turned to Animal Crossing: New Horizons. From Gorillaz premiering a new song in a player-created show to villagers appearing as crowd members in an NFL game, Animal Crossing has become a major cultural phenomenon.

The game has become one of the most successful products Nintendo has ever released, becoming the second best-selling Switch game and selling nearly as many copies as Pokemon Red and Blue combined. While the game is intended for personal use, several businesses and political organisations have used the game for promotion.

Animal Crossing
Image: Nintentdo EPD

As a result, Nintendo has stepped in with a set of guidelines for businesses and organisations to “preserve the experience for the millions of people enjoying the Game recreationally”. You know, those people wanting a semblance of a normal life in the face of COVID-19, climate change, and a global recession.

Nintendo has allowed for custom designs, Dream Addresses, island invitations, and game footage to be shared to “family-friendly websites and social network services” – provided that the content does not go beyond the game’s age rating or is intended for financial benefit.

The guidelines notably ask players and organisations to “refrain from bringing politics into the Game.” While the game has been used for  political campaigns including that of Shigeru Ishiba for Japan’s Prime Ministership, the Biden-Harris presidential campaign was perhaps the most prominent example.

With how heated the US election has been, it does make some sense to insulate Animal Crossing from talks of the election being rigged and President Trump refusing to concede to President-elect Biden.

As a private company, Nintendo have every right to institute these guidelines. However, there are concerns of what the Japanese company deems “politics“.

Earlier this year, Animal Crossing: New Horizons was banned from sale in China following Hong Kong protesters using the game to promote pro-democracy messages and designs which blew up on social media.

There is also concern regarding movements such as Black Lives Matter and LGBTQI+ rights, especially considering Nintendo previously banned a Super Smash Bros. Ultimate stage for featuring the trans flag.