While many have found Animal Crossing: New Horizons to be a delightful escape from the real world worries and impact of the covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, it seems increasingly likely that the virus will actually come to affect your island escape.
Game director Aya Kyogoku told The Washington Post that they may have to adjust their plans for the game’s future seasonal events depending on how the coronavirus crisis evolves. Development “is still going”, but she also said, “We’re not sure if we have to shift anything, but I think we have to be flexible.”
This won’t affect the first Easter-themed Bunny Day event, which was patched into the game with version 1.1 on launch day and will run from 1st April to 12th April. The event will require an online connection to double check the date before the event starts, and future events will be patched into the game in a similar fashion.
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Some have speculated that this is to stop players from time-skipping through the game using the system clock, which has been a way to jump backward and forward to see different events or open stores after they’ve closed for the night. However, the game now features gameplay elements like DIY and the island designer, which are available at all times of day, meaning there’s less imperative to do so.
While frowned upon, Kyokogu told WP that it’s more about ensuring you experience events alongside friends and family also playing the game. “Adding all the seasonal events by updates wasn’t our way to shun away time travel by any means, but Animal Crossing is a game that users are able to play and enjoy throughout the year.”
That shift in game design and development now has the unintended consequence of impacting the game’s live nature through this coronavirus pandemic. For the time being, Japan seems to have limited the worst of the virus, with the country only recently reporting over 1,000 cases. However, they’ve still had some impact, as Animal Crossing-themed Nintendo Switched were in short supply for Japan as Chinese factories shut down.
While a number of game developers around the world have implemented new work from home policies, Nintendo staff are still working from their offices in Japan, but have shifted their working hours to take them out of rush-hour travel times.
So for now, it’s business as usual, but we’ll have to wait and see if the coronavirus will send Nintendo’s plans for their charming game altered.
Source: Washington Post