Thanks in part to the COVID-19 pandemic keeping everyone at home and prompting them to search out some feel good media, Animal Crossing: New Horizons has become one of the biggest games of the year and one of the biggest Switch games of all time. This, naturally, means that brands and businesses have been looking to tap into that hype in any way they can, and up until now, it hasn’t been uncommon to see businesses offering custom designs or even creating entire islands based around their brands.
Of course, with the US election just barely in the rear view, we also saw a lot of campaigning being done in-game by way of custom designs as well. Injecting politics into Animal Crossing: New Horizons is something that Nintendo thinks is a step too far, as today it issued a new set of guidelines for how businesses and organizations should use the game to promote their brands.
In a post to its website today, Nintendo says that while Animal Crossing: New Horizons is really only intended for personal use, it understands “there may be situations in which businesses and organizations would like to use or reference the Game in relation to their business.” With that in mind, Nintendo is putting these guidelines in place so that businesses can do that without affecting the experience of those who are playing the game recreationally.
Under these guidelines, Nintendo permits businesses to provide custom designs and dream addresses to other players. Those businesses can also invite players to their islands or upload screenshots and footage of the game to “family-friendly websites and social network services.”
As far as the things Nintendo doesn’t want, politics are out, as is any content or activity that goes beyond the age rating of the game. Also out is using New Horizons “as a marketing platform that directs people to activities or campaigns outside the game<' and selling custom designs or otherwise earning revenue from game content. So, if you're a New Horizons player, you can probably expect some changes to the way businesses and organizations use the game to advertise products and brands to you. We’ll see if any of this leads to less advertising in-game, so stay tuned for more.