The success of Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a double-edged sword: The hit game has attracted new fans to the franchise, but it has also made clear the lengths players are willing to go to obtain their favorite items and villagers. There haven’t even been any hints of an Animal Crossing gacha game so far, but industry trends and certain aspects of New Horizons make one seem inevitable. Nintendo has already implemented a system of microtransactions in the Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp mobile game, and it’s not hard to imagine this formula being expanded into a new title – one in which Genshin Impact-style random drops include villagers, decorative items, and even rotating vendors.

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Gacha games make money based on the random drop chances of desired items or characters, and randomness has always had a presence in Animal Crossing. While some of the series’ randomized mechanics have become friendlier over the years, it maintains a serious influence on the pacing of each game. From the spawning of New Horizons’ rare bugs and fish to the arrival and departure of new villagers, players can never be sure what they’ll encounter, when. This makes a gacha-styled Animal Crossing seem too profitable to pass up, and Nintendo has already implemented some gacha mechanics in Pocket Camp via “fortune cookie” loot boxes. But a mainstream AC game could do much more with the idea.

New Horizons puts a heavy emphasis on traveling vendors like Kicks, Labelle, and the infamous Redd, all of which appear on an irregular, RNG-based cycle. While ACNH encourages travel between islands, allowing them to take advantage of the random happenings of other players’ towns, an Animal Crossing gacha game could instead supply players with daily spins (spins of a wheel, rolls of a die, turns of the lever on a gachapon machine, etc.) to see which vendor would show up. Buying extra spins in hopes of completing the museum with Redd’s art would be a natural fit, as would purchasing increased chances for an elusive tarantula or scorpion to appear.

Animal Crossing Villagers Are Perfect For Gacha Mechanics

One of the biggest trends in the Animal Crossing: New Horizons community after launch was villager hunting. Characters like Marshall and Raymond were (and still are) Animal Crossing’s most sought-after villagers, leading some players to pay real money to get them from trades or hackers. Nintendo has already turned some form of profit from this frenzy by way of villager amiibo cards, but offering loot boxes or extra chances to obtain a popular villager would likely earn the company a lot more.

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While Animal Crossing has seen varying levels of player freedom within the boundaries of its randomness, one feature that has remained consistent is daily limitations. New Horizons lets players build only one house a day and only one construction project at a time. This expands the game’s longevity, but some fans would likely be willing to pay to accelerate the process – just as Pocket Camp already allows. Exploitation through limitation is a tool many gacha games utilize, and it fits the Animal Crossing formula almost too well.

The Animal Crossing franchise will likely only continue to grow in popularity. Following Animal Crossing: New Horizons absence from E3 2021, many fans are questioning what the future holds. Hopefully, this future won’t contain islands filled with microtransactions and loot boxes, but players shouldn’t be surprised if that’s exactly what happens.

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