Released on 20th March, Animal Crossing: New Horizons has swiftly topped the UK charts, selling more copies in its first week than the equivalent UK figures of every other Animal Crossing title combined. This success not only speaks to the popularity of the Switch, but how the game itself is a perfect antidote to the unprecedented, unstable times the world finds itself in.
With the spread of Coronavirus distorting the tenents of daily life more and more each day, people are turning to videogames to escape from the near-constant fear and anxiety that permeates their waking hours. In support of this, developers and publishers are offering their games at steep discounts, or else outright giving them away; live-game developers are offering in-game events to keep people engaged while self-isolating; and players are using games to stay connected while adhering to 'social distancing' guidelines.
There's no avoiding the fact that these circumstances can be scary. It's perfect timing that a game like Animal Crossing—with calming, routine-driven gameplay—should release now and offer millions of players respite where their real-lives provide none.
New Horizons' producer, Hisashi Nogami, told The Verge that he hoped players will use the game as "an escape, so they can enjoy themselves during this difficult time". There's no way that anyone involved in the game's production could have predicted these circumstances, but at the very least they can be proud that their work is helping bring relief to millions who may be struggling with the effects of Coronavirus.