Animal Crossing: New Horizons has run into a major snafu within the biggest gaming market in the world. According to the details shared by Niko Partners’ analyst Daniel Ahmad, the game is currently not officially being sold over the Chinese territory. The game has not received official approval for sale from the government, and now imports of copies from other regions have been banned from entering the country. But when dealing with an area of the world infamous for censorship there’s a lot of potential for things to get screwed up.
There’s always a risk with user-generated content that some offensive content could be posted by bad actors. Most of the content within the Animal Crossing: New Horizons library is pretty tame. Most of it is just references to popular culture, or just generally gamers having fun. Animal Crossing isn’t a franchise known for that many representations of death, violence or other potentially offensive content either.
It’s also worth noting that the Switch cartridges physically sold in China are region-locked and will only work on Chinese consoles. And much like any other product or service in China, it must be sold with the approval of the government, and with stricter controls that include censorship, and the representation of a Chinese company. This particular system has allowed companies like Tencent to become massively wealthy through partnerships to distribute Western games in China. Market research and consulting firm Niko Partners estimates that the Nintendo Switch has sold approximately 50,000 units on its launch day in China.
There is allegedly a ton of collusion to protect Chinese companies in the legal system within the country, so it’s rather hard to work through all of these problems as a foreign company.
It’s apparently still possible to play Animal Crossing: New Horizons if you have a copy in China, but there have been some reports that Nintendo may implement a fix to disable such functionality via a patch. This has not been confirmed, and it’s important to remember that there is a ton of misinformation about China in the world and across the internet.