To be honest, Animal Crossing was always going to be a hit. It's just the perfect distillation of the Nintendo experience: a cutesy social experience couched in harmless video game fun. Still, one unanticipated side effect of the global COVID-19 pandemic was how plenty of people and groups turned to the game for new and innovative ways of connecting with others. Examples abound, including players building a real-world economy around the game's resources, TV stars plying a version of their trade in the game, protests and social movements springing up in the game's world, and even the use of the game as part of the presidential election campaign. Mostly absent was any pushback from the gaming community. Instead, these few instances of crossover from real world to gaming world appeared to simply show the power of what Nintendo had created: an open and innovative gaming experience based on community and unbridled social interaction.
That description, of course, is about as historically un-Nintendo as it gets, so perhaps it's not entirely surprising that a recent update from Nintendo over its usage terms for the game seems to squarely aim to neuter much of this. In a post titled "Animal Crossing: New Horizons usage guidelines for businesses and organizations", which you can read for yourself in its entirety, Nintendo prohibits groups and organizations from doing the following:
However, please observe the following points when you engage in these activities.
Please be aware of the game rating and do not engage in activities that go beyond the rating.
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.
Please do not share false information about the Game with anyone, and do not deceive others while using the Game (e.g. falsely indicating you are separately licensed or otherwise approved by Nintendo).
Please do not leverage the Game 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).
You are not allowed to obtain any financial benefit from using the Game (including selling your Custom Design or earning any advertising revenue with the Game content).
Now, some of these prohibitions are reasonable, albeit quite vague. No, you shouldn't falsely imply sanctioning by Nintendo; no, you shouldn't break the game's age rating through your actions.
But reading those guidelines pretty clearly also prohibits several of the cool interactions we detailed in the opening. Making any money from selling the game's resources to other gamers. Starting social movements within the game. And if all politics in the game are banned, there goes the innovative organizing use by Biden or other politicians as well.
And on that last bit about removing all politics from the game world: good fucking luck. This is a game built on social interaction and, since politics in 2020 has managed to invade every last crevice of our over-bloated society, it's going to come up. I imagine Nintendo mostly wants to limit official campaign actions within the game, which is stupid in and of itself. Still, building a social game and then telling customers how they can be social is simply not going to work.
Again, it's not surprising: this is as Nintendo as it gets. But it is certainly disappointing.
With thanks to our Friends over at : Techdirt.
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