Nintendo’s game Animal Crossing has been a quarantine hit as millions of homebound players around the world converged in the digital universe to connect. The game is now partnering with Global Pride, an international group of Pride organizations, to host a virtual festival for all its LGBTQ+ members and allies on the specially created “Pride island”.
Pride week—held the last full week of June—is usually home to the largest celebrations. Despite in-person events being canceled this year, brands and LGBTQ+ organizations have turned to digital events, such as HBO’s Human By Orientation campaign and NYC Pride’s Virtual Parade, to keep the spirit alive. Animal Crossing is now joining the list of digital Pride celebrations by hosting #TheVirtualPrideCrossing campaign, which promotes the game as a safe space for people of any gender, race, or sexual orientation. The game, which tasks players with surviving on island paradises, is holding its celebrations June 27 on the virtual Pride island, where Animal Crossing avatars can dress in Pride-friendly clothing and take part in a march, a catwalk, and a message board. Professional Twitch gamers will livestream their “sessions” on Pride island, with fans encouraged to watch and help raise money for LGBTQ+ charities.
The popularity of the updated version of Animal Crossing attests to gaming’s move into mainstream media in recent years. Nintendo’s strategy to make the game a social media-like platform could play a role in its success as users searched for new ways to stay entertained and connected during Coronavirus lockdowns. The brand traditionally leverages content to engage its fervent fan base across games and social media, according to a Gartner report, so it makes sense that it would create a Pride campaign on its current best-selling product that has the potential to strengthen audience loyalty. By making the Pride events open to all users and having the functionality to let users talk to each other, Animal Crossing could increase its following as fans flock to partake in the virtual celebrations. A few brands have partnered with the game recently, including Valentino and the NFL’s Detroit Lions, but none have been as large-scale as Global Pride’s #TheVirtualPrideCrossing. The campaign could inspire other brands to follow suit and go beyond creating virtual clothing by creating multiplex, digital celebrations that have the potential to reach users around the world.
Animal Crossing has proven a happy escape for users during the pandemic, and with the addition of its Pride celebrations, more users could find glee in the game. With traditional marketing taking a backseat during the crisis, creating promotions through unexpected platforms has become customary, and even carries the potential to be a mainstream technique long after the things return to normal.