Why No Game Will Match Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ Popularity

While new games continue to be released, I don't think any game will be as mainstream as Animal Crossing: New Horizons was.

Story Highlights

  • Animal Crossing: New Horizons was so popular that even presidential nominees ran campaigns on it.
  • The worldwide lockdown undoubtedly played a huge role in the game’s popularity.
  • The Doom Eternal and New Horizons simultaneous release campaign was iconic on social media.

Gaming is an ever-evolving media that continues to attract new audiences. With such diversity and creativity, there’s likely a game for everyone. However, while many games like Elden Ring have broken the mold of what it means to be a mainstream video game, I think the most mainstream video game was already released in 2020.

Some readers will likely scoff when I say Animal Crossing: New Horizons achieved peak mainstream popularity in 2020. If you were active on any social media platform in that year then you likely witnessed the cultural phenomenon that was New Horizons.

With multiple factors contributing to New Horizon’s success, similar to the stars aligning, I don’t think any game will hit the mainstream popularity Animal Crossing: New Horizons did.

Wait, Joe Biden Plays Animal Crossing?

Before anything, it’s crucial to establish just how popular Animal Crossing: New Horizons was. When most think of New Horizons, they think of visiting their friend’s islands. That, or watching cozy reels and streams on TikTok or Twitch. However, that doesn’t even scratch the surface.

YouTube video

Several popular celebrities were seen playing the game around its launch. Bri Larson from the MCU, Elijah Wood from The Lord of the Rings, and Maisie Williams from Game of Thrones were just some celebrities to jump on the hype train.

New Horizon’s success went out of hand when even Joe Biden, the US Democratic presidential nominee for the 2020 elections, invited fans to his personalized island. With big signs pointing visitors to the Democratic National Committee’s voting registration site, Nintendo had to step up and implement a new rule that forbids all politics in the game.

Lockdown? More like Animal Crossing: New Horizons Time

The biggest factor contributing to New Horizons’ success was definitely the pandemic that was ongoing in 2020. With social distancing at its peak, people were craving social contact with their friends and loved ones more than ever. Fortunately, Animal Crossing: New Horizons came out just in time.

As a social simulation game, Animal Crossing: New Horizons lets players interact with each other from a safe distance. Showing off islands, fishing, and generally hanging out helped players divert their minds from the chaos ensuing in the world.

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Additionally, social media usage was off the charts as everyone was sitting at home with free time. Alongside other fads like making sourdough and getting a buzzcut, playing Animal Crossing was one of those Covid fads that took the world by storm. I’m not complaining though, since I made lifelong memories because of it.

Barbenheimer Before It Was Cool

People nowadays might remember the Barbenheimer trend, where Oppenheimer and Barbie, two movies of alternating themes, were released on the same day. The social media craze helped boost both movies to cultural phenomenon status, but this wasn’t the first time.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons was released alongside Doom Eternal, a violent game where players massacre demons. The clashing genres made for a social media meme campaign similar to Barbieheimer, boosting the success of both games.

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After all, it’s no surprise that Animal Crossing: New Horizons broke the record for most console sales in a month. At 45.36 million units, New Horizons was why the Nintendo Switch console was sold out in so many places. It was so bad that people started scalping it for increased prices.

Thanks to all the metaphorical stars aligning, New Horizons was able to do something special. New games will undoubtedly continue to be released. However, I don’t think any game will reach the level of popularity as Nintendo’s magnum opus.

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Ahmed Shayan is a News Writer on eXputer with decent experience writing about games. He’s a machine learning enthusiast with a passion for a plethora of gaming genres. Ahmed is fond of Soulsborne games in which he has invested more than 3,000 hours! You can follow Ahmed's gaming activity on his PSN Profile.

Experience: 1.5+ Years || Mainly Covers News Stories on eXputer || Education: Bachelors in Data Science.

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