Why Animal Crossing’s Latest Mobile Game Hits The Sweet Spot

Why Animal Crossing’s Latest Mobile Game Hits The Sweet Spot

Nintendo took the Animal Crossing formula, added elements from other mobile games, and made a free-to-play, highly polished hybrid that the gaming world is falling in love with.
Sarah Dezelin
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“Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp” is a free mobile game and newest addition to the Animal Crossing series. Nintendo took the traditional Animal Crossing formula, along with elements from other mobile games, to make a free-to-play, highly polished hybrid that the gaming world is falling in love with. This may mean there truly is a future for more console-quality games for mobile devices.

The Animal Crossing series are cute and iconic life-simulation games. The main goal is to establish a life on your own, make money to expand and improve your house, make friends, and enhance the town you live in. All the other characters are animals. Where many other games focus on home improvement and accumulating wealth, the main focus on this game is establishing and enhancing friendship. Pocket Camp gives players a mobile home instead of the traditional house, so you live on a campsite and travel to connected islands, gathering items to complete quests.

Animal Crossing has already been a huge success, selling more than 30 million units of games since its release in 2001. It released this November, and currently has well more than 200,000 downloads on the Google Play, with even more on iTunes, and is growing fast. The reviews show overwhelming affection toward the game and how well it connects with the rest of the series.

Smart Handling of In-Game Purchases

“The game play is exactly what you’d expect from an Animal Crossing title and there isn’t too much emphasis on spending real money in game,” says Google Play reviewer Kelly Jones.

Gamers hate when in-game purchases are necessary for gameplay, as displayed in the recent uproar against EA for the excessive pay-to-play aspects of its new “Star Wars Battlefront II,” which led to their company value dropping nearly $3 billion. Nintendo was much smarter about it.

In-app purchases are similar to the system in “Pokémon Go.” You are able to purchase “Leaf Tickets” that function as an alternate currency to purchase things like inventory upgrades. You can earn Leaf Tickets through free gameplay as well. The purchases are not necessary to unlock basic parts of the game, but speed up or ease small tasks, while also not giving overwhelming advantages to those willing to shell out real cash for the game.

Since the game is free, and available on a phone you already have, there truly is no cost necessary to play. If you were to buy a new handheld console, it would run you a hundred or so, plus the cost of games. So even if one wanted to spend small amounts of money on the game, it is still a bargain compared to traditional console gaming. Nintendo is relying on in-app purchases for this title, as there are no real ads in game, but they are not pushing it down people’s throats. Because of this, the game is only as expensive as you allow it to be.

The Game Also Works Well

Compared to “Pokémon Go,” the game is highly functional, has minimal bugs, and is both beautiful and finished. There is no constant need to restart the game or your phone. The game is fairly well-thought out, especially considering they had to convert a game whose predecessors relied on buttons to rely entirely on a touchscreen. They did so without removing too many significant features—you can still fish, bug-catch, collect fruit, and more.

In “Pocket Camp,” you are not just a townsperson or a mayor, but the owner and operator of a campsite. The game includes a lot of characters from previous games, opening with KK Slider playing his guitar. The goal is to make as many friends as possible, completing quests by collecting and crafting items. The crafting items are new to Animal Crossing. You use them to build items needed to progress. The highly expanded inventory can hold 100 items right from the start, and you can buy more room using “Leaf Tickets.”

There are also in-game events, during which you can unlock limited-time clothes, resources, and furniture. This will likely get Nintendo some well-earned income for creating a good game and keeping it fresh through making fun updates. A holiday-themed event is currently going on, where you can score Christmas décor and a Santa Claus costume for your character.

The success of this game will likely determine if more games like this will get developed. Since it is free, there is no reason to not try out this charming and entertaining addition to the Animal Crossing world.

Sarah Dezelin is a video game technician and rising political activist. She is currently working toward a natural resources degree at the University of Connecticut.

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