The first-person-shooter has been a hot seller in recent months.
But the game has also been accused of selling out and of taking advantage of pet owners’ fear of losing their pets, leading to an online petition to ban the game from being sold in the UK.
The petition, which has received more than 17,000 signatures, asks the game’s developer, developer Bluehole, to remove the game as a playable game from the UK’s Animal Crossing store.
In a statement, Bluehole said it would not remove the Animal Crossing game from stores unless there is a “strongly compelling reason” to do so.
“We’re committed to making the Animal Crossings experience the best it can be for players,” the company said.
“However, there’s a strong possibility that if the game is removed from the store, it will be used as an exploitative tool to attract new players to the game and further exploit the pet-owners fears of losing them.”
The petition states that the game could encourage people to trade animals and to buy pet food or other products with the pet they are trading for.
But while some players might buy the items and continue playing, others might abandon the game, it added.
The game’s creator, Bluefish Games, has previously admitted that the animal trading feature could be exploited.
“As soon as the game launches, we will take a look at how we can remove this from the game,” the developer said in a statement on March 6.
Bluefish did not respond to Ars’ request for comment.
Bluehole’s announcement comes after the UK Government’s animal welfare watchdog found that the Animal Control Service was “poorly trained” and was failing to respond to complaints about the game.
The animal welfare regulator also found that a major part of the game was not designed to address concerns about pets, and that the developer’s promise of a pet-centric experience was “misleading and unrealistic”.
Bluehole did not say how many animals had been traded for, nor how many pets had been sold.
The Animal Crossing franchise has sold more than 30 million copies worldwide.