Written by Benjamin Oi, Clio Goh and Yong Lun Yeo.

Animal Crossing — The New Playground for Brands?

With an unprecedented number of people around the world in lockdown, many have turned to video games to escape from the confines of their four walls. 

Animal Crossing: New Horizons, which was released earlier this year for the Nintendo Switch, has been experiencing massive popularity and is now arguably the latest craze - thanks to its relaxing and peaceful gameplay which provides a perfect retreat from the current COVID-19 situation. 

Players are given the open-ended objective to turn a desert island into a paradise through buying and trading, and time moves at a real-life pace. Beyond farming turnips and decorating the interior of your home, perhaps most importantly, the game’s social features have provided an alternative space for desperately-needed social interaction in this time of physical isolation. Once connected to the internet, players can visit real-life friends’ islands and chat in-game. 

With endlessly customizable avatar outfits, editable towns, and terraforming tools, Animal Crossing has also increasingly become a hotbed for brands to reach consumers in new ways.  

Luxury brand Valentino has been sharing in-game designs of its real-life collections on social media, and so has Highsnobiety and Marc Jacobs, amongst others.  The sandbox also provides enough tools to virtually recreate (at least in part) experiences that players might miss out in real life - like what Singapore’s recreational island Sentosa did with their latest campaign to recreate an island getaway.

Getty has even created an Art Generator where users can download Getty Museum’s open-access artwork via a QR code and mount it in-game.  

Animal Crossing offers plenty of opportunities for brands to be creative, but it is important to be able to contribute in an organic and wholesome way. The game’s soothing and peaceful nature provides a safe space for players to express themselves, so brands might find the most success by respecting the essence of the game. Animal Crossing is not going away anytime soon, and may well represent the next emergent type of social network in a post-COVID world. We’re excited to see how brands will continue to evolve their engagement on such platforms in the coming years.

A New Way to Navigate Instagram Stories, Maybe?

Instagram is rolling out a series of tests for new ways to navigate through your Stories in the app, in order to help users find and view more Stories that they’re interested in.

Reverse-engineering guru Jane Manchun Wong tweeted an example showing the new quick switch function in Stories which enables users to slide the main Stories frame down to reveal the Stories tray at the top of the screen. This allows people to switch through each story quicker and have more control over the content they want to view.

By adding a different flow to Stories, it makes them easier to sift through and could potentially keep users more engaged. Trends also suggest that Stories would become the primary function on Instagram and even across social platforms, and these new tests could be a step along that path.

Khol’s and Snapchat Creates Virtual Closet To Ease Shopping Woes

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Adapting to today’s COVID-19 landscape, Snapchat teamed up with department store Kohl’s to create an augmented reality virtual closet - enabling users to browse clothes from home on the app itself. It’s the next best thing besides actually visiting the physical store!

With the virtual closet and Snapchat’s shoppable AR technology, users can easily browse and shop without leaving the app. Snapchat has also updated Kohl’s selection of clothing to include athleisure and loungewear items to better suit the many people working from home.

Giving users the opportunity to experience a brand new way of shopping with AR is a great way to engage with audiences, and at the same time drive traffic towards the application as well. Moving forward, this could even become the new ‘norm’ when it comes to online shopping. 

The virtual closet is now accessible in the US via the Lens Carousel.

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Disclaimer: Featured image taken from Asia One.