In May, travelers could visit Singapore’s sunny Sentosa Island without a plane ticket—or the chance of contracting COVID-19.
Within Nintendo’s Animal Crossing, players visiting Sentosa Development Corp.’s virtual island could do yoga on the beach, sip on a bubble tea or relax at a resort spa, all experiences available on the island IRL.
It’s the first time a brand rigged the game to create a publicized virtual experience for players. Others are already following suit.
Inspired by players’ love of changing their characters’ outfits with QR codes, organized fashion shows are now hitting the game. Hypebeast’s women’s streetwear e-commerce brand Hypebae held an invite-only fashion show on May 27, and aired it live to YouTube. Berlin-based fashion organization Reference Festival held its own the weekend prior. Meanwhile, UK delivery service Deliveroo is delivering packages filled with real-life promo codes in-game to players.
With the pandemic shuttering experiential campaigns, the connectivity that games offer is an appealing alternative. When Epic Games’ Fortnite hosted a Travis Scott concert in April, 12.3 million people participated, dwarfing the number of fans that can fit in any stadium. The game has done several successful tie-ins with brands including Wendy’s and Nike. Marketers see Animal Crossing as having the same potential.
“Animal Crossing: New Horizons” is the hottest game of the pandemic, selling more than 13 million copies in its first six weeks, according to Nintendo’s May 7 earnings.
The cartoon life simulator gives players their own tropical islands where they can buy and trade items like wood and bugs to create their own virtual paradise, all while befriending joyful anthropomorphic animals. Connect the game to the internet, and players can visit their friends’ islands. It’s leisurely, repetitive and perfect for stressed-out people confined to their homes during coronavirus lockdowns. What’s more, it’s brand-safe.