Nintendo has announced guidelines regarding political messages in the world of Animal Crossing: New Horizons. According to the company behind the mega-famous video game, no politics or you're out. For businesses, at least.
"While our services and products are generally for personal use only, we understand there may be situations in which businesses and organizations would like to use or reference the Game in relation to their business," Nintendo explains. "As such, we would like to share a few guidelines with those businesses, organizations, and anyone representing them, to preserve the experience for the millions of people enjoying the Game recreationally."
According to Nintendo, businesses are allowed to upload their own custom design and dream address to other players within the game. They're more than able and allowed to invite people to their respective islands. They can also upload screenshots of Animal Crossing footage outside the domain, for social and commercial marketing. But when it comes to politics, Nintendo is very clearly banning ideological messages across the board. Although it doesn't name the campaign, the company's announcement comes just weeks after Joe Biden's campaign turned to Animal Crossing to put up yard signs. It even directed users on how to register to vote. For Nintendo, that's crossing a line.
Keep it friendly to everyone — Nintendo has asked Animal Crossing users to avoid sharing misinformation within the game and has barred "deceiving others while using the Game (for example, falsely indicating you are separately licensed or otherwise approved by Nintendo)."
As mentioned before, the company doesn't take names, which is commercially clever considering it wants to keep everyone happy, regardless of ideological differences. In the past, not only have Democrats like the Biden campaign relied on the whimsical landscape to deliver political messages; Hong Kong protesters, too, came under fire for using the game to issue political demands. It eventually led to a ban in China.
Open to revision — Nintendo says that it is open to revising the guidelines, so this may not be a permanent position. This willingness to reconsider the rule is a smart move. After all, Animal Crossing has become the virtual venue for fashion shows, brand awareness, songs, parties, and other activities rendered temporarily impossible by the COVID-19 pandemic. Turning away the political types — for the time being — works, though Nintendo may want to open the gates to them once more to keep the game crowded (and financially successful).