While Animal Crossing: New Horizons isn’t technically available in China, the game has become popular nonetheless through imported foreign copies. Although Nintendo released the Switch in China in December 2019, very few games are officially available for that market.
Chinese players have still been able to access Animal Crossing: New Horizons by purchasing foreign versions through small game importers, changing the Nintendo eShop location to buy digitally, or through online retailers, Polygon reports. Two of the largest online retailers, Pinduoduo and Taobao, suddenly stopped stocking the players began to use the game to host online versions of the ongoing Hong Kong protests, however.
In allowing people to decorate their islands with custom designs, and invite friends over to check them out, Animal Crossing has become a new platform for the Hong Kong democracy protests thanks to pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong.
Wong tweeted out a photo of a protest organized in the game, followed by a thread that elaborated on the Animal Crossing protests and how they’ve become so vital after the threat of COVID-19 (coronavirus) has shut down large outdoor gatherings.
“Frankly speaking, without coronavirus, I don’t believe HKers would go through such a tremendous effort in decorating their islands to be a protest site,” Wong said in an interview with USgamer.
Since Wong’s tweets garnered attention and the in-game protests grew, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is no longer available to buy on Chinese grey market retailers Pinduoduo and Taobao, according to Reuters.
It’s unclear whether sale of the game was removed due to a government order or voluntarily by politically sensitive retailers.
In February, pandemic-themed strategy game Plague Inc. was removed from sale in China after the Cyberspace Administration of China determined that the strategy game “includes content that is illegal in China.”
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