Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a 2020 life simulation game developed and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo Switch; it is the fifth main game in the Animal Crossing series. In New Horizons, the player controls a character who moves to a deserted island after purchasing a getaway package from Tom Nook, playing the game in a nonlinear fashion and developing the island as they choose. They can gather and craft items, customize the island, and form it into a community of anthropomorphic animals.
According to the developers, New Horizons began development in 2012. The game director, Aya Kyogoku, had the philosophy of retaining old content from previous games to keep fans happy while also making the game simple enough to appeal to newcomers. With art and graphics, they used the concept of “trigger of play” and the “imagination gap”, where the former kept the gameplay simplistic and easy to pick up while the latter kept the art style simple for the player to imagine the rest. After a delay in the game’s release, which caused an initial loss in US$1 billion, the game was made available in March of 2020.
New Horizons received acclaim from critics, with many praising its gameplay and customization options and calling it the best game in the series; it won the award for Game of the Year at the Famitsu Dengeki Game Awards 2020 and the Japan Game Awards 2020, and was nominated for Best Game at the 2021 BAFTA Games Awards, where it won the Best Multiplayer and Game Beyond Entertainment awards. It was nominated in three categories at The Game Awards 2020, and ultimately won Best Family Game.
New Horizons was also a major commercial success, selling over 32 million copies worldwide and breaking the console game record for most digital units sold in a single month. It is the best-selling game in the Animal Crossing series, the second best-selling game on the Nintendo Switch,[b] the second-best-selling game of all time in Japan,[c] and the 16th best-selling video game in history. Its success has been attributed in part to its release amid global stay-at-home orders during the COVID-19 pandemic.