From Isolated to Island-Hopping: China Embraces Animal Crossing

As a deadly pandemic ravages the globe, gamers are turning to a new virtual diversion as a welcome escape from reality.

A screenshot of a player’s virtual home in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. From @四散的星尘 on Weibo

As Yin Hao explored the expansive, newly completed wildlife museum on his private island, his eyes welled with tears. Harkening back to his childhood dream of becoming a naturalist, Yin was moved by the beauty of the animals and artifacts on display in his hermit kingdom.

The Shanghai-based management consultant isn’t a Chinese Richard Branson, but one of many thousands of people in the country captivated by the recently released Nintendo Switch game Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

“When I first played this game, I discovered it was full of endless delights,” Yin tells Sixth Tone. “So I introduced it to a lot of my friends and recommended that they try it, too.”

The game — which features an online world populated by players fishing, foraging, building, farming, and interacting with friendly nonplayable characters on their own colorful islands — has been a global hit, breaking Switch sales records in Japan and the U.K. since its March 20 launch.

While sales figures for China aren’t available, tens of thousands of Animal Crossing: New Horizons game cartridges have been sold on e-commerce platform Taobao, and many more have undoubtedly been purchased from the Nintendo Game Store and downloaded directly onto Switch consoles.

On Chinese microblogging platform Weibo, an Animal Crossing: New Horizons hashtag has been viewed over 820 million times, with many young people lamenting that they feel like the last ones on Earth who haven’t bought the game.

“Everyone was playing it, so I wanted to see how good it is,” says Li Yachao, a 34-year-old Beijing-based office clerk who purchased the game three days ago. Li tells Sixth Tone that many of her friends bought a Nintendo Switch just to play Animal Crossing. Continue to read the full article here.



– This article originally appeared on Sixth Tone.