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If you thought Animal Crossing: New Horizons hype was a thing of the past, think again.

In recent weeks, several brands launched activations on the Nintendo Switch game, whose grip on culture and internet discourse was virtually nonexistent just a few months ago following the highs of March 2020, when Animal Crossing was the internet’s preferred pandemic past-time.

Back then, some particularly ambitious players recreated designer looks for their characters to wear utilizing the game’s custom clothing design tool.

These faithful recreations were spotlighted on Instagram accounts including @AnimalCrossingFashionArchive and @NookStreetMarket.

From there, brands themselves began picking up on the game’s appeal. Luxury labels including Sandy Liang, Marc Jacobs, and Valentino brought their designs to the game via virtual pop-ups and digital product drops.

By January 2021, though, the fervor surrounding Animal Crossing had long since faded, though plenty of folks still play.

Inexplicably, the game has surged in branded popularity once again, nearly a year and a half after it launched.

In late October, Gucci Beauty unveiled its very own in-game island, inspired by the beauty imprint’s new fragrance, Flora Fantasy. The bloom-filled island is hosted by an avatar of Miley Cyrus, the face of the perfume.

Around the same time, jewelry giant Pandora and British fashion label Ted Baker built custom Animal Crossing islands outfitted with the companies’ respective branding.

The most recent brand to collab with the game is H&M. On November 2, the fast fashion institution debuted a new “all-vegan” collection at its very own virtual locale, Looop Island.

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It’s not entirely clear what we have to owe for Animal Crossing‘s unexpected corporate comeback.

On one hand, the game is scheduled for an imminent update, which Nintendo representatives billed as the title’s “last major free content update.”

On the other, it could also be NFT mania, which has ebbed and flowed since Beeple’s $63.9 million NFT sale in March 2021.

Demand for digital lifestyles only deepened when Mark Zuckerberg rebranded Facebook as “Meta” last week.

Though these Animal Crossing events, planned months in advance, couldn’t have been influenced by all of these things at once, they may speak to brands soon dabbling in the Metaverse.

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