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Animal Crossing: New Horizons game has disappeared from China’s biggest e-commerce site

Nintendo’s popular Animal Crossing: New Horizons game has disappeared from China’s biggest e-commerce site—and many on Chinese social media are blaming players in Hong Kong, who used the game to spread pro-democracy messages.Sellers on Taobao, China’s equivalent of eBay, found that Animal Crossing had disappeared from their online stores Friday morning, according to independent Chinese media outlet Caijing.Searches for Animal Crossing on Taobao did not return results for the game on Friday, only Animal Crossing-themed merchandise.

One notable Animal Crossings player is Joshua Wong, Hong Kong’s secretary-general of the pro-democracy party Demosisto. Wong has been using New Horizons to create political commentary and satirical content amid the Coronavirus lockdown.In the wake of images hitting social media last week, listings for the game have been taken down from online stores in China including Pinduoduo and Taobao – the latter owned by Alibaba. Tech news publication Ping West reports that some resellers on Taobao commented that the store directed them to stop selling the title through the platform.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons may have launched in March but the Chinese government has yet to approve official sales of the popular Nintendo Switch title. This has led fans to rely on other measures to get their Animal Crossing fix, namely importing the game through these ebay-like websites.

China has not yet taken the more extreme step of blocking direct access to Nintendo's online servers from the country. That would block downloads of Animal Crossing and other Switch games as well as online play for imported systems, though players could potentially get around that with a VPN. Such a major move could anger Chinese Switch gamers whose imports have been treated mostly with benign neglect thus far. It also could anger Nintendo and imperil the company's lucrative arrangement with Tencent, which is sharing in millions of official console sales in the country.

It’s not clear whether the game was targeted by Chinese officials, but the Communist Party’s censorship apparatus has been used to ban everything from Winnie the Pooh (due to comparisons with Chinese leader Xi Jinping), to broadcasts of the NBA after the general manager of the Houston Rockets expressed support for pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. Finally, to enjoy all the features in the game, players can Buy Animal Crossing Bells from at a reasonable price.
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