Who knew that the adorable life sim Animal Crossing: New Horizons would cause some controversy between two nations?
The Nintendo Switch exclusive has been taken down from online Chinese stores Pinduoduo and Taobao because the game is being used to share pro-Hong Kong protest messages.
Messages like these…
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
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
Basically, players in China are using the game to share messages criticizing the country’s president Xi Jinping and Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam. The game lets you create custom images and place them wherever you like.
According to a Reuters report, searching for the Switch game on these two platforms will not return any search results. Some resellers on Taobao shared messages on the social media website WeChat claiming that the store told them to stop selling Animal Crossing: New Horizons on the platform. Keep in mind that Taobao is owned by Chinese juggernaut Alibaba.
While there is no concrete evidence that links the removal of the game in Chinese online stores with the protest messages in the title, the country has seen its fair share of censorship. Our top horror game pick of 2019 Devotion was removed from Steam last year due to the game featuring a meme mocking Jingping as one of its easter eggs. Blizzard suspended pro Hearthstone player Blitzchung after his “Liberate Hong Kong” post-match interview speech.