Nintendo’s Animal Crossing has provided millions of game players with an alternative way to socialize while much of the world is on lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But the Nintendo Switch game, as inoffensive as it appears to be, seems to have angered the Chinese government.

China quietly removed Animal Crossing from all online and physical stores on Friday, according to several Chinese media reports.

Some listings on Taobao where Chinese players were selling in-game items and money have also disappeared. There was no official announcement for the game removal.

Chinese players woke up to the bad news and criticized the government for censoring an innocent game like Animal Crossing.

“Animal Crossing is deshelved because the level of freedom was too high??? I beg the government to ban all citizens from speaking and writing, which level of freedom is even higher than [the game],” a Chinese netizen in Nanjing wrote on Weibo.

Some Cnetizens were outraged not at the removal itself, but at Hongkongers and Taiwanese. A Weibo user Chen Zhong-yong directed his anger at Joshua Wong, a prominent Hong Kong pro-democracy activist who recently tweeted about his gameplay. Like many other Hong Kong protesters, Wong showcased his in-game protest slogans “Reclaim Hong Kong, the revolution of our times” on Twitter.

Other players have used the game’s features to design “funerals” featuring Xi Jinping’s headshots, which likely offended supporters of the leader of the Chinese Communist Party. Various images also show a grim portrayal of Wuhan’s lockdown.

Before Animal Crossing was removed from the shelves, many fans in China were using it as an escape from reality. A few teachers have even conducted virtual lessons with the game’s online feature, while more hardcore players were making a fortune off of the item sales.

The online server for the game remains open for access, according to Chinese gaming blogger Lao Dao 99.

Most Nintendo Switch consoles are sold out around the world due to supply chain disruptions and heightened demands. Since the COVID-19 pandemic has halted factory operations in China and Vietnam. Despite a gradual recovery that has begun in recent weeks, Nintendo’s production capacity has not fully recovered.

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TNL Editor: Nicholas Haggerty (@thenewslensintl)

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