In a controversial move, DeNA, the Japanese company behind Nintendo’s mobile gaming market, has added loot boxes to Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp.
The latest update for Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp has added a loot box system to the game. Sometimes referred to as a gacha system (in reference to the Japanese capsule toy vending machines,) these systems involve paying an in-game currency, often a premium one that can be purchased for real-life cash, for semi-random in-game prizes. This system reached public attention when Star Wars Battlefront 2 offered a loot box system where character upgrades were included in the prize pool, meaning players that spent a lot of money could get an unfair advantage via pay-to-win. These types of loot boxes are all too common in the mobile market (although Apple requires the odds for the loot boxes be shown in the games), but it’s especially eyebrow-raising when it appears in a major console release or, in this case, a game for younger audiences made by such a mainstream studio. Legislation has already been made in regards to certain loot box systems.
The loot box system in Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp works like this: the in-game market offers three tiers of fortune cookie. Buying one gives a cute fortune (“You will never get another blister on your foot.”) and some form of rare item. The basic tier cost 500 Bells (the classic Animal Crossing currency) and offers some of the more basic items. The middle tier costs 5,000 Bells and gives items linked to special furniture and clothing sets, but aren’t always available for purchase. The top tier costs 50 Leaf Tickets (the premium currency) and gives the same items as the middle tier. It should also be noted that buying a basic or middle tier fortune cookie causes it to be sold out, so players can’t spend Bells to repeatedly buy fortune cookies.
What sets the top tier apart from the other tiers is that its always in stock, never runs out, and is also part of a stamp system where you can get special items after getting 10 stamps. If players want to buy Leaf Tickets to purchase top tier fortune cookies, they’ll be frustrated to find that the Leaf Ticket store doesn’t sell them in bundles of 50. The least they could buy is a 45 ticket bundle for $2 and a 20 bundle for an extra dollar, forcing players to buy extra tickets they might not want.
Response to the fortune cookie system has been pretty negative. A good amount of people see it as poor form to add this system because the game didn’t launch with them, even if Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp did not make as much money for Nintendo and DeNA as was expected. People are also upset over adding a loot box system to a franchise considered to be family friendly and innocent. How this will affect the game’s bottom line is yet to be seen, but it’s evident that players are still sore over last year’s loot box debacle.