Nintendo’s Animal Crossing: New Horizons is the hottest game of the coronavirus pandemic (and one of our hottest brands of 2020), reaching an audience hungry for leisurely, low-key fun. Nintendo’s May earnings revealed the game sold more than 13 million copies in its first six weeks and it ranked just behind Call of Duty: Modern Warfare in NPD’s list of the top 10 selling games of the past year. The game requires a Nintendo Switch console, which retails at $300 and up in the U.S.
As with any new potential marketing platform, brands are tiptoeing in to experiment. Since the game launched on March 20, brands have been sharing QR codes for customized clothing that players can wear in-game, creating characters who visit players’ islands and hosting one-off virtual events like fashion shows.
In the past month, some brands have gone a step further by customizing their own branded islands to host players and then, in some cases, livestream their gameplay on platforms such as YouTube and Twitch. As long as a player has an island’s dodo code, they can visit in-game, so brands have been sharing their dodo codes on their social channels. There are a couple of downsides: Only up to eight players can visit an island at one time and brands have to create an island from scratch, just like players do. Even without brands intervening, players are already creating their own branded paradises, like Starbucks cafes and Disneyland replicas.
These seven brands and agencies have customized their own Animal Crossing islands:
Chuck E. Cheese
Chuck E. Cheese might be bankrupt, but the kids eatery is making a name for itself on its Twitch channel where it streams weekly sessions of its play on its branded Animal Crossing island to an audience of 3,200 followers and growing. A character wearing a purple Chuck E. Cheese shirt and a matching hat is seen exploring the customized island and collecting items to continue building. The island comes complete with a stage decked out with instruments and artwork featuring Chuck E. Cheese’s Munch’s Make Believe Band, the mechanical band that once played at the chain’s restaurants. The island also has its own shop, themed rooms and flower patches. Throughout the livestreams, the Chuck E. Cheese character gives visitors tours of the island and meets up with a mouse character by the name of Chadder.