On Animal Crossing, the economy never stopped

Catch someone musing about turnip prices? That’s a sure sign they’re going crazy for Animal Crossing.

April 14, 2020

Photo: Torley Olmstead/Flickr

The new public square is an anthropomorphic animal village called Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

The Nintendo Switch game, which rolled out its latest version on March 20, is hosting island parties, weddings, and Easter celebrations — under the watchful eye of a controversial raccoon shopkeeper.

Couples stuck at home are crediting their in-game interactions with saving their marriages. If you see someone musing about turnip prices? It’s safe to assume they’re talking about whether they can finally turn a profit out of their root fields.  

Animal Crossing is an advertiser’s paradise 

For some businesses — especially fashion brands — Animal Crossing is finding a niche where the ad market left off. 

Companies like Net-a-Porter, Gucci, Dior, and Burberry are seizing on a feature that lets people dress their avatars in custom clothing — and they’re offering up some ritzy fashion pieces for a small price. 

The exclusive fashion line 100 Thieves had a full apparel drop in the game this month.

The frenzy for branded add-ons has gotten so intense that Animal Crossing influencers are a thing now. The Instagram account AnimalCrossingFashionArchive shows off all of the best in-game pieces to its 24.2k followers.

But even an island paradise can’t escape geopolitics 

The game’s newfound clout is making some powerful people nervous. China, for one, would really like to ban Animal Crossing. 

Unable to gather in person, activists in Hong Kong have been staging protests against the mainland within Animal Crossing’s custom, user-generated worlds.

After activists posted banners that said “Free Hong Kong, revolution now,” the mainland forced Animal Crossing off ecommerce platforms like Taobao and Pinduoduo — shutting down the idyllic village and all of its beloved turnip plots.

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