Nintendo have released guidelines for businesses and organizations seeking to use Animal Crossing: New Horizons; specifically asking them not to bring politics into the game.
The “Animal Crossing: New Horizons Usage Guidelines for Businesses and Organizations” was posted on Nintendo’s Japanese website in both English and Japanese. While thanking fans for supporting the game, the statement explains how they understand businesses and other organizations may wish to use or reference it in their own promotions and marketing.
For this, Nintendo have shared guidelines in order to “preserve the experience for the millions of people enjoying the Game recreationally.” Those failing to meet those guidelines or outright “damaging or having bad influence on the community” will be asked to stop, or Nintendo taking “appropriate actions, including prohibiting your future business usage of the Game.”
In short, Nintendo allow businesses to provide Custom Designs and Dream Addresses, inviting players to their island, or sharing screenshots and game footage to “family-friendly” websites and social media.
However, they ask that businesses and organizations do not “engage in activities” that go beyond the game’s rating, and not to share false information (such as being licensed by Nintendo when you are not).
Nintendo also ask businesses and organizations do not create inappropriate content; such as things that could be deemed vulgar or offensive. As part of the bullet-point, Nintendo specifically say “Please also refrain from bringing politics into the Game.”
The latter may be in reference to the Joe Biden 2020 US election campaign creating yard signs for the game (or rather, Custom Designs that can be placed on a sign or other furniture and clothing in game). The Biden-Harris campaign organizers also reportedly sent the design to “a handful of gaming influencers” who will be sharing gameplay with the signs.
The move was reminiscent of when US 2016 Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton stated “I don’t know who created Pokémon Go, but I want to figure out how to get them to have Pokémon Go-to-the-polls!” in reference to the popularity of Pokemon Go.
In addition, the new guidelines note that businesses and organizations cannot attempt to make money via the platform; such as selling custom designs or “earning advertising revenue.”
As many streamers earn money via sponsorship and donations, this rule at first sounds as though it would work against them. However, it seems unlikely Nintendo would seek to ban streaming of their game that has sold over 26.04 million copies in eight months. This could hypothetically affect the Animal Talking online late-night talk show that uses the game.
Nintendo also ask that businesses and organizations “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).”
While that would seem to almost rule out all forms of advertising, it seems more likely that it means businesses and organizations could not directly encourage someone within the game to make a purchase or enter a contest.
It is also likely the guidelines sound as though they intentionally overreach; to grant Nintendo more leeway of when to pursue cases, and to have more justification where the guidelines were flagrantly broken.
Nintendo also note that they “may revise this message as the community changes,” and “Any business use of the Game that exceeds the rules set forth herein shall be permitted only with the separate and express, written permission of Nintendo.”