Animal Crossing live streams vanish in China
The popular Nintendo Switch game disappeared from ecommerce platforms after Hong Kong protest art went viral, and now it’s vanishing from live streams on Bilibili and other sites
After its sudden disappearance from China’s ecommerce platforms, Animal Crossing: New Horizons now appears to be no longer welcome on the country’s live-streaming platforms.
On Monday, internet users started lamenting a ban on live streaming for the popular Nintendo Switch game on the country’s Twitch-like streaming sites Douyu and Huya. Some shared screenshots on microblogging site Weibo allegedly showing notices about the ban sent to streamers.
At first, the ban didn’t appear to be absolute. A live stream of the game was still available Monday night on Bilibili, a popular streaming platform better known for its anime offerings.
But that had changed by Tuesday, when searches for Animal Crossing across several local sites failed to bring up any live-streaming videos. Abacus reached out to Bilibili, Douyu and Huya and will update if we receive a response.
New Horizons is Nintendo’s latest entry in the popular Animal Crossing franchise. The family-friendly simulation game became a hit in China even though it’s not officially available in the country. But it soon drew attention for becoming an outlet for political opinions.
Last week, the game started disappearing from shopping platforms in China. Local fans of the game quickly blamed Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong, whose tweets about the game went viral. Animal Crossing had unexpectedly become a place for Hong Kong protesters to create protest art while stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic.
It’s not clear if this is the reason for the takedown, though. Because of the country’s strict game approval process, online sellers of unauthorized games operate in a legal gray area by importing physical versions from abroad. Importantly, this is the only way owners of the Chinese Nintendo Switch can play any game that isn’t one of the three Mario games officially available in the country.
Chinese players have also been decorating their virtual islands with Communist propaganda and jokes about the Covid-19 quarantine. This also could have been irksome to local censors.
But it’s worth noting that, by design, people cannot visit islands belonging to players outside your friends list without being invited, so players are unlikely to see content that they may find troublesome without specifically seeking it out.
As of Tuesday, plenty of videos about Animal Crossing were still available on local streaming sites, including Bilibili and Douyu. But no live-streaming sessions were active.