Last month, Joe Biden took his campaign into the Nintendo Switch game Animal Crossing and began promoting himself in the digital world. He now faces a ban from the platform, along with all other political campaigns and businesses.
Nintendo appears to have updated its guidelines in response to the Biden campaign’s efforts on its platform.
“Please refrain from using the Game inappropriately or creating any content within the Game that would be considered vulgar, discriminatory, or offensive. Please also refrain from bringing politics into the Game,” the new guidelines read.
The guidelines go on to forbid players from using Animal Crossing “as a marketing platform that directs people to activities or campaigns outside the game (including directing people to a sales page, distributing coupons, sweepstakes, giveaways, requiring consumers to follow social network services accounts, gathering customers’ information, or other invitational activities).”
— Marce11o (@Marce11o) October 20, 2020
The Biden campaign reportedly created its own island in the game and called it “Biden HQ.”
The island had campaign flyers and a flag with the “Team Joe” logo and included a “massive ad for the Democratic Natonal Committee’s ‘I Will Vote’ website,” accord to The Verge.
“The island includes plenty of ice cream, trains, aviators, chucks, swag, and more weaved throughout the entire island — but there are also features that encourage players to organize and mobilize,” Christian Tom, who served as director of the campaign’s digital partnerships, reportedly said after the island was established.
Nintendo says that groups that break these rules will be asked to stop their promotion, and if they refuse they could be baned from “future business usage of the game.”
For now, Biden’s island Dream Address is still active, and can still be accessed. It is unclear when Nintendo will begin enforcing the new policy.
— The Main Event (@LeMainEvent) October 17, 2020
Nintendo said that the new rules are intended to “preserve the experience for the millions of people enjoying the Game recreationally.”
The game was previously used by activists in Hong Kong, as a platform to protest, using flags containing protest slogans such as “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our time” and funeral photographs of Communist Party of China (CPC) general secretary Xi Jinping as part of the virtual protests. In reaction, the game has been removed from online stores in China.
New Horizons was a major commercial success, breaking the console game record for most digital units sold in a single month with five million sales, and has currently sold over 26 million copies. It became the best-selling game in the Animal Crossing series, and the second best-selling game on the Nintendo Switch, after Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. It is currently the 28th best-selling video game in history.
In North America, it was the best-selling game of March 2020, becoming the second best-selling game of 2020 and surpassing the lifetime sales of all previous Animal Crossing games. New Horizons generated the third-highest known launch month sales of any Nintendo-published game.
On August 9, 2020, it was reported that Animal Crossing: New Horizons became the second-highest selling game of all time in Japan, after Pokemon Red and Blue.