‘Animal Crossing’ pulled from Chinese market after virtual Hong Kong protests

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Given the current situation, you’d imagine that the top priorities for e-commerce sites would be profit loss, wages, and disruption to global postal services. However, China’s major e-commerce platforms appear to have a more pressing matter on their hands: the sale of a cute simulation video game.
Yesterday, Reuters reported that “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” — which isn’t officially licensed in China — had been pulled from Taobao and Pinduoduo. On paper, “Animal Crossing” seems as innocuous as can be — players live on a customizable tropical island, hang out with anthropomorphic animals, and generally live their best lives.
During the outbreak, however, protesters have circumvented the Hong Kong government’s restrictions on public gatherings and simply staged demonstrations within the game itself, inviting other players to join them at virtual vigils, protests, and voodoo-esque ceremonies.
Last week, tweets from Joshua Wong and Studio Incendo showing islands decked out in protest imagery, black-clad characters attending what appears to be Carrie Lam’s funeral, and even a “villain-hitting” ceremony (with Lam being the “villain” in question) went viral.
Chinese tech site PingWest reports that Taobao, which is owned by Alibaba, ordered resellers to remove all listings related to “Animal Crossing” from the platform last Thursday. PingWest also shared screenshots of messages from “Animal Crossing” WeChat groups which showed admins threatening to kick out all members who discussed the ban.
Neither Taobao nor Pingduoduo have released any official statements on the matter, though tech sites like ArsTechnica have speculated that the ban was likely ordered by the Chinese government.
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