Chinese fans of Nintendo’s Animal Crossing: New Horizons are paying a premium on foreign consoles and finding ways to limit the extent of skirts imposed by local regulators on a game that is both a worldwide hit and a political flashpoint. Breakouts have been created.

The game has become a global bestseller as its players describe their ability to create virtual versions of themselves and their homes and interact with other gamers as escapism from the real world. Coronavirus Lockdown, but it is not licensed for sale in China’s tightly regulated gaming industry.

To get the game and play it to its full potential, players in China are paying a premium of up to 50 percent to be unlocked. The switch Consoles sold abroad and brought by middlemen, foreign bank accounts to pay for items, or pay for services to get faster Internet speeds to access the game’s foreign servers.

The Chinese tutor said, “I think everyone is like this. After some time you will want to talk to someone, chat with someone or go out with someone somewhere. But during this epidemic there are not many such opportunities. . ” Zhao Tianyu, who bought a switch console Of alibaba Taobao e-commerce platform from a third-party vendor in February.

“This game is a way for us to communicate with each other.”

Analysts say it has generated the most buzz in China of all foreign-made games, and gamers have used the opportunity to mimic scenarios in the real world that have been used to check and mask temperatures on the virtual islands they have created. Are wearing and even putting on patriotic posters. Images of the president Xi Jinping.

But some aspiring players have to use code words to find animal crossings on sale online after Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong Used the game To criticize Beijing, indicated a mainland breakdown over illegal sales.

Fellow gamer Liu Jisei, 25, said he plays about eight hours a day. “It’s like real life. Despite the quarantine, I can still hang out with my friends.”

Nintendo said on Thursday Animal Crossing: New Horizons transferred Record 13.4 million units in its first six weeks since its release in March, and increasing demand for its Switch console helped the Japanese firm triple its fourth-quarter profit.

China console locked
Nintendo Sell ​​consoles in China to the local market from December last year through a partnership with a Chinese gaming giant Tencent But these Tencent-stamped have a server lock that prevents players from connecting to foreign servers.

Some gamers told Reuters that they had initially purchased the Tencent version, thinking that they could use it to play their own copies of the Animal Crossing they received from the gray market, but later found that they were unable to.

Zeng Duanxuan, a fashion designer from Beijing, said she paid CNY 2,100 (about Rs. 22,400) for the Tencent-stamped console earlier this year, but was now selling it, as it was used to play her game copy. Could not be done for.

“What attracted me to the sport is that you can call friends’ houses like you do in real life, and go fishing and chat with friends. Now I’ll just say that I never made this switch Have bought, ”he said.

Compared to the Japanese versions of Switch Consoles that were priced at CNY 4,000 (about Rs 42,600) by third parties, the new Tencent-stamped ones are being sold on about half that on e-commerce platforms such as Pinduvao. Almost newbies also reduced the price on resale sites like Idol Fish.

Daniel Ahmed, an analyst at gaming research firm Niko Partners, said Animal Crossing is exposing a damaging Tencent face as it tries to promote its console in the world’s largest video game market.

“This will always lead to core console players from which gray market editions will be imported first,” he said.

China’s National Press and Publishing Administration, the government agency overseeing print and online media, and Tencent did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Nintendo declined to comment.

“Protest Island”
But there is little hope that the Chinese government will improve its approach to the server lock or give green light to the sale of animal crossings in China as Hong Kong democracy activist Wong used it to protest against Beijing’s rule . Chinese Territory.

Last month, Wong deployment of A screenshot of his island on Twitter is decorated with a banner: “free Hong Kong, now revolution”. Shortly thereafter, cartridges for animal crossing and related themed merchandise were pulled from China’s gray market e-commerce platform.

Mainland gamers will now have to watch the game using codenames such as “Macho Man Picking Tree Branch” and “Macho Man Fishing Bass” to prepare vendors to deal privately, and this has caused frustration among the majority And has increased, which he says simply carry out such activities as mundane, non-political activities to prepare his cartoon avatars or grow vegetables.

“If it was a very violent game that was banned internationally, I would understand,” Zhao said.

Nevertheless, some Chinese gamers have reacted to Wong’s post with slogans such as “unify one country, two systems, China” in reference to Beijing’s policy towards Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Wong has shown photographs of his island with a picture of President Xi and World Health Organization chief Tedros Adenom Ghebreyas in a joking manner called “Wuhan pneumonia”.

“We try our best to make the island a protest site,” Wong told Reuters.

© Thomson Reuters 2020

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