Animal Crossing: New Horizons Pulled From Chinese Selling Sites After Hong Kong Protests

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Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a huge hit all around the world, including China, where the game is taking on somewhat of a political edge. Of course, Animal Crossing allows players to create their own designs that can displayed in various ways, and some are using that ability to share images in support of Hong Kong’s ongoing pro-democracy movement. Over the past few days, various examples of in-game Animal Crossing Hong Kong protests have been shared via social media.

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Well, it seems Chinese officials may have taken notice. Now, Animal Crossing: New Horizons has not been officially approved for sale in China, but the game has still been widely available through online selling sites and various mom ‘n’ pop shops. Usually, Chinese officials turn a blind eye toward these sort of “grey market” sales, but apparently, they’ve specifically cracked down on Animal Crossing. The game has disappeared from Chinese e-commerce sites Pinduoduo and Taobao (essentially the Chinese version of eBay) and sellers have said they were specifically told to remove listings.

According to Niko Partners analysts Daniel Ahmad, who has a lot of inside insights into the Chinese gaming market, the decision to shut down Animal Crossing sales, citing existing, but selectively-enforced policies, came directly from Chinese regulators…

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Now, we don’t know for certain that Animal Crossing sales being pulled has anything to do with the in-game protests, but it isn’t that hard to connect the dots. Chinese authorities have cracked down on games for much less – the horror game Devotion was struck down for a single Easter egg comparing Chinese leader Xi Jinping to Winnie the Pooh.

While it’s certainly disappointing to see the Chinese government cutting off yet another avenue of free expression, much like the Hong Kong protests themselves, they probably won’t be able to truly rid themselves of Animal Crossing. While Pinduoduo and Taobao aren’t selling the game anymore, smaller shops likely will, and hey, the Switch is region-free, so there’s really no stopping people.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons is available now on Nintendo Switch.

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