How far can you take a media campaign? As new indie game Sunshine Shuffle discovered, far enough to get you blocked from the Nintendo eShop and the entirety of Korea.
Sunshine Shuffle, releasing today on Steam, based its media campaign specifically about not wanting to teach gambling to children. The media campaign has spectacularly backfired.
Sunshine Shuffle, developed by Strange Scaffold, is a crime drama narrated by the way of a cast of furry little characters playing Texas Hold Em poker on a steamboat. The game was supposed to launch today on PC and Nintendo Switch but, just a few hours before the launch, director Xalavier Nelson Jr. took to Twitter for a shocking development.
"I goofed too close to the sun" the dev explained, "Apparently, my media campaign about the game not teaching children to gamble has convinced Nintendo that Sunshine Shuffle is about enticing children to spend real world money without their parents' permission, in order to gamble with adorable animal criminals".
Someone on TikTok asked the developer on why would Nintendo block Sunshine Shuffle, while still allowing games with lootboxes on their store. "The answer is mischievious little guys, apparently the presence of our characters in the game is the difference between a lootbox and enticing children to gamble" mentions the developer in a reply video.
While Sunshine Shuffle has no micro transactions of any kind, Xalavier kept up the bit about "not wanting to teach children to gamble" through his media campaign on social media. In the end, his commitment to the bit, he mentions, ended up convincing Nintendo of the exact opposite.
We've reached Xalavier for some last minute updates and he explains further: "we've shown [Nintendo] multiple times over that the game doesn't have microtransactions/Malicious Child Gambling Intent--and we've gone through the lotcheck process, so they can see we haven't done that.”
The developer confirms that, even after explaining again and resubmitting the application for the game to be published on the store, they got hit with another rejection. "We're confident it'll be resolved soon and appreciate the opportunity and support that allowed us to bring another game to our players on Nintendo Switch, but it is both an objectively terrifying and deeply funny set of circumstances to find yourself in."
Finally, Xalavier confirms having no regrets on how the media campaign was handled. Nevertheless, Nintendo’s decision is still weird, but not without precedent.
"Strange Scaffold pulled off something that literally only one other studio (Telltale) in games history has ever done, and I'm real proud of what the team accomplished here."
Remains to be seen whether the developers are able to convince Nintendo that there are no micro transactions and unblocking the store page. Still this incident seems to prove, once again, how the Japanese company has quite a peculiar list of worries regarding the content of games it approves on its store.