Brands have been doing what they do best in Animal Crossing: New Horizons by advertising their companies, products, goals, and whatever else they may want to bring attention to, but Nintendo would very much prefer those plans don't involve politics in any way. The updated guidelines for how brands should plan on using Animal Crossing: New Horizons for their initiatives were shared this week alongside the game's winter update which is now available for all players in the proper regions to receive such content.
Found on Nintendo's official site, the announcement for the new guidelines for businesses and organizations using Animal Crossing: New Horizons opened first by thanking those who use and support the game for purely personal purposes. For those who don't and use the game as a platform for their own ads or businesses, Nintendo said it understands that those things will happen while asking that those organizations adhere to some guidelines now in place for their content. Following those rules will help "preserve the experience for the millions of people enjoying the Game recreationally," Nintendo said.
Giving custom designs and codes to islands out to other players as well as inviting players onto islands and sharing footage from the game are fair game for brands, Nintendo said. The bit politics was its own point tacked on to the standard disclaimer about not using in-game content to create anything offensive.
"Please refrain from using the Game inappropriately or creating any content within the Game that would be considered vulgar, discriminatory, or offensive," Nintendo said. "Please also refrain from bringing politics into the Game."
We've seen Animal Crossing: New Horizons used several different ways by brands since the game launched as organizations looked to capitalize on the game's popularity. Some of examples of this usage that were free of politics include things like KFC's island that featured one of the restaurant chain's establishments for players to visit.
Players have also seen the game used for much more directly political purposes though. During the buildup to the 2020 Presidential Election in the United States, the Biden-Harris campaign notably first created yard signs and other cosmetics for players to use in-game before creating an entire island that people could visit. The "Biden HQ" island as it was called was about as political as you could make Animal Crossing: New Horizons, so it certainly seems like that was a large part in the new guidelines.
Nintendo did not specify what would happen to content that violated these guidelines, but it did say that those brands who want to use Animal Crossing: New Horizons in any way that exceeds the rules has to have written permission from the company.