Ask Answers: The Secret Behind Animal Crossing’s Meteoric Success
If you’ve been paying attention to social media even just a little bit during the past month, you’ve probably heard about Animal Crossing: New Horizons, which was released for the Nintendo Switch on March 20. Although New Horizons marks the fifth entry in the long-running Animal Crossing series, it might be the first time you’re hearing about it, unless you are (or know) a gamer. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced folks worldwide to shelter in place and physically distance themselves from family and friends, seems to have strangely set the perfect stage for New Horizons to take the world by storm.
The game offers a calming escape — and the opportunity to virtually hang out with your buddies. At an unprecedented time like this, those offerings shouldn’t be underestimated: New Horizons sold 5 million digital copies in its first month, breaking console game records for most single-month sales. Production shutdowns and global supply-chain issues have impacted most industries and many products, and the Nintendo Switch is no exception.
Animal Crossing Contributes to the Worldwide Nintendo Switch Shortage
However, the higher-than-anticipated demand for New Horizons, paired with these other COVID-19-caused issues, has led to a global shortage of Nintendo’s premier console for the last month. (Also, this Virginia-based teen may’ve had something to do with it; he created an automated shopping bot that allows buyers to bypass the checkout process and snatch up the consoles.) The Switch, which allows the gamer to play on the go, like a handheld device, and on the TV, like a standard gaming console (hence the clever name), is out of stock everywhere.
So, What Does the Player Actually Do in Animal Crossing?
In the social simulation game, the player character is a human who moves to a distant village inhabited by various anthropomorphic animals. One of those animals is Tom Nook, a raccoon shopkeep with an eye for business. Nook provides the player with a house — but it comes at a steep price. In order to pay off the debt, the player must explore the village and catch fish, sell bugs, hunt for fossils and so on in order to accumulate Bells, the local currency.
Living the Simple Life and Building Community
Better yet, even if you’re isolated, you don’t have to play New Horizons in isolation. Players have the opportunity to invite friends and other gamers to their islands or visit far-flung locations themselves. Translation: If you’re confined to your home, you can get your fix of the everyday here. You can be social in a virtual way, share items with your pals and just explore.