In Animal Crossing: New Horizons, gamers can almost completely freely shape their lives and their surroundings. The Chinese government has now banned the game from being sold.
Until now, Chinese gamers could order Animal Crossing: New Horizons via the eBay-like auction portals Taobao and Pinduoduo. The sale of the game was there now, however officially prohibited. The reason for the restriction is the freedom of expression within the game.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Hong Kong's Democracy Movement
In the family-friendly hit Animal Crossing: New Horizons, players can design and decorate their virtual island home as they wish. The activists of Hong Kong's democracy movement used this freedom to depict political statements in the form of clothing, works of art and actions within the game – and then to share the results as widely as possible on social media channels.
Animal Crossing is Fast Becoming a New Way for Hong Kong Protesters to Fight for Democracy! The # Covid_19 pandemic has halted public demonstrations, so protesters are taking their cause to #AnimalCrossing.https://t.co/A599kjlYsV
(This is my island!) pic.twitter.com/vjBhzw1nUa
– Joshua Wong 黃 之 鋒 😷 (@joshuawongcf) April 2, 2020
In this way, they criticized the actions of Hong Kong's Prime Minister Carrie Lam and Chinese President Xi Jinping. As a consequence, sellers on the Taobao and Pinduoduo platforms were informed that Animal Crossing: New Horizons could no longer be offered there. Because an official release has not yet taken place in China, this is equivalent to a complete ban on sales.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Loophole in Nintendo's e-shop
China is known for its tough line in censoring video games and other content. Animal Crossing: New Horizons is unfortunately not the first game to be denied to gamers in the Middle Kingdom. The regulations there result in bans on the media, especially when the content is viewed by the authorities as too violent or offensive. This also includes user-generated content.
Officially, the game is no longer for sale in China. However, it is not completely removed from the country. If you already own the game, you can still access it offline. In addition, gamers can change the country region on their switch profile – in this way Animal Crossing: New Horizons is still available in Nintendo's e-shop.