Fans of the early-2000s era GameCube version of the original Animal Crossing likely remember the game including a handful of emulated NES titles that could be played by obtaining in-game items for your house. What players back then didn’t know is that the NES emulator in Animal Crossing can also be used to play any generic NES ROM stored on a GameCube memory card.
The key to opening Animal Crossing‘s NES emulator is the game’s generic “NES console” item. Usually, this item simply tells players who try to use it that “I want to play my NES, but I don’t have any software” (separate in-game items are used to play the NES ROMs that are included on the Animal Crossing disc).
March 2016 saw Nintendo finally release its first game for smartphones, and while it wasn’t one of the company’s classic franchises, the oddball Miitomo seemed like it might be a good smartphone fit.
Although the game attracted headlines and millions of downloads in its first week, it didn’t turn out to be a solid, classic Nintendo “social game” like Animal Crossing. Less than two years later, the app has already taken its first steps to a game-as-a-service graveyard, as Nintendo announced the game’s immediate freeze of paid microtransactions (MTX) on Thursday ahead of a full game shutdown on May 9. On that day, all login attempts will stop working, and all “Mii” characters made in the game will be trapped. (Log in ahead of the shutdown should you wish to transfer those Miis to other compatible consoles like the Switch and Nintendo 3DS.)
This announcement, like the ones we’ve seen for other dying-soon MMOs and online games, offers a consolation of free in-game items and bonuses for players who continue logging in until the final days. The game’s Japanese site describes impending refunds for any unused paid currencies in the game, but we didn’t see similar text appear in the English-language announcement, perhaps owing to the default, non-refundable nature of MTX in shops like Google Play and the iOS App Store.
When Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp launched on iOS a few weeks ago, our own Sam Machkovech took it to task for its “hurry up and wait” gameplay loop and in-your-face, hard-sell microtransactions. Now, data from app analysis firm Sensor Tower suggests the game is struggling to bring in much money from players, even after attracting more than 15 million downloads in six days.
In a recent blog post, Sensor Tower estimates that Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp has brought in about $10 million in revenue in its first nine days of iOS availability. That might sound like a pretty good start for the game, but it pales in comparison to the $24 million in revenue for Super Mario Run and $33 million for Fire Emblem Heroes in the same time frame after their launches.
Perhaps more worrisome for Animal Crossing‘s mobile potential, a whopping 86 percent of the estimated revenue so far comes from Japan, with a further 11 percent coming from the US, according to Sensor Tower. That suggests a game with a decent domestic following for Nintendo, but one that seems unlikely to break out into a Pokemon Go-style international hit.
Animal Crossing debuted as a weird, unique, and very Nintendo-like video game in 2001. It resembled popular life- and farm-sim games, where your experience in a small, riverside village revolved around simple tasks and monotony. But Nintendo added a very special pinch of time and patience.
There simply wasn’t much to do in a given day after fishing, fossil scavenging, and running basic errands. That was the point. You were supposed to hop in, do your daily virtual regimen, leave notes for other players in the same household, and come back in a day or two. That formula has since shone for over a decade, with follow-up entries adding online support that essentially expands that “cozy little household” feeling without breaking the game’s core loop.
That’s why fans were understandably excited about the series getting its first smartphone entry, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, which is now out on Android and iOS. The series’ mix of simple, bright graphics, cute animal friends, house decorations, and quick-hit daily tasks seems like perfect tap-and-go gaming fodder. And many of the series’ best and weirdest trappings are in this smartphone version. But before addressing any of that, we have to look closely at how Nintendo converted this game from a fixed-price, retail offering to a free-to-play microtransaction disaster—and how that has rotted Animal Crossing‘s most rewarding elements from the inside-out.
Similar to the latter two games, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is a mobile-optimized version of its franchise’s larger console games, and introduces a few new features into the traditional Animal Crossing gameplay to streamline certain actions for one-handed smartphone sessions. For example, both fishing and bug hunting are as simple as tapping on the screen, and the world that the player occupies — centered around a campsite — is scaled down from the villages of games like New Leaf and Wild World.
The main mechanic of Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp centers on convincing animal villagers to stick around at your campsite by foraging for materials and crafting their favorite furniture. Outside of the camp, there is also a beach, river, island, and other areas that are accessible through your camper, which you can also customize and decorate to your liking. Additionally, you can visit your real friends to check out their camps to give them “kudos” on their decorations and see what items they’re selling in their Market Box.
Any time you visit Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, the game will reflect the time of day and current season of the real world, and Nintendo has said it will be launching seasonal events over the holidays with exclusive furniture, outfits, and item decorations for players to collect.
Nintendo’s latest smartphone game is free-to-play and uses optional “Leaf Tickets” as in-game currency, but our sister site Touch Arcade got hands-on time with the game in October and found very little reason to spend real money in the game, thanks to gameplay systems that eventually reward players with the items they want if they put in the time to get them.
You can also spend Leaf Tickets to craft any furniture you might not have the materials for, but again, the first session of the game sprays so many of these different things at you that you’re really going to need to play the game for a while before you’re running low on anything.
There’s other “cheater” items (and I’m saying “cheater” with the absolute most exaggerated air quotes imaginable) that you can buy with Leaf Tickets too like fishing nets and honey, which are used to catch loads of fish or bugs in one go- But, it seemed like if I wanted to invest the time I could just fish and catch bugs all day, so this seems like a real weird way to spend premium currency.
Players should note that Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp requires a “persistent internet” connection — mentioned in the game’s “digest” trailer — which seems to be similar to the always online requirement of Super Mario Run. At the time of Super Mario Run‘s launch, Shigeru Miyamoto said that Nintendo’s reasoning behind this move is to “support security” and prevent piracy.
Looking ahead, Nintendo’s next mobile game is rumored to be set within The Legend of Zelda universe, although it’s still unclear exactly what the gameplay would be for that app.
For more information on Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, head to Nintendo’s website, and you can download the game on the iOS App Store for free beginning today [Direct Link]. For those playing on iPhone X, the game has been optimized to support the 5.8-inch display of Apple’s new smartphone.
Nintendo on Twitter today confirmed that the company’s upcoming iOS game, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, will launch worldwide on November 22. The confirmation of a release date comes nearly one month after the game was first unveiled in late October, after which it soft launched on the Australian iOS App Store and climbed to the top of the charts there faster than either Super Mario Run or Fire Emblem Heroes.
When it launches later this week, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp will be a miniaturized version of the main games in the series, allowing players to visit and manage a campsite in lieu of a full village. At the camp, players can decorate the location with furniture to attract certain animal characters, as well as go fishing, hunt for bugs, shop, and more to complete quests and craft items to further deck out the camp.
Just like the other games in the series, time passes in real time so when you open the app the game will reflect the time of day in the real world, subsequently affecting certain bug and fish spawns and allowing for upcoming seasonal events. There’s also a social aspect that allows players to visit the camps of their friends to get inspired by their designs, and sell or exchange items with them.
Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp will be free-to-play, and uses optional “Leaf Tickets” so players can bypass long wait times when they build structures, purchase the materials needed to craft furniture, and more. If you’re interested in Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, visit our sister site Touch Arcade to read some first impressions on the game ahead of its release on November 22.
Nintendo’s newly-announced iOS game, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, has soft launched in the Australian iOS App Store, a launch rollout that Nintendo has begun to favor as a way to test its iOS apps prior to a worldwide debut. According to new data gathered by Sensor Tower, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp climbed to the top of the Australian App Store much faster than either Super Mario Run or Fire Emblem Heroes.
Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp debuted quite high among all iPhone apps on the Australian App Store, hitting around number 2 within the first hour of its soft launch on October 25. Afterwards, the new game reached the number 1 spot on the Australian App Store within 12 hours of its debut. Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is Nintendo’s fourth smartphone game made in partnership with developer DeNA, following Miitomo, Super Mario Run, and Fire Emblem Heroes.
Hourly App Store category rankings from Sensor Tower App Intelligence show Nintendo’s third mobile game, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, off to a strong start in its Australian soft launch on iOS. According to the data, the game reached No. 1 among all iPhone apps faster than Nintendo’s previous mobile releases, Super Mario Run and Fire Emblem Heroes, hitting the impressive milestone within 12 hours of its launch on October 25.
Comparatively, Super Mario Run debuted just below the number 40 ranking. It then hit number 2 after 12 hours on the App Store in Australia, and finally obtained the number 1 spot 14 hours after its soft launch in the country last December.
Fire Emblem Heroes was ranked at number 35 at the 12 hour mark of its respective Australian soft launch earlier this year, and only made it as high as number 13 among all iPhone apps. Fire Emblem isn’t quite as well-known a franchise as Mario or Animal Crossing, leading to low download rates on launch day in the United States.
Sensor Tower also reported that Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is currently ranked at number 117 among the top grossing iPhone apps in Australia. The game uses “Leaf Tickets” as its form of in-app purchase, allowing players to circumvent certain lengthy wait times for item and furniture building, supplement tickets for crafting materials, add in exclusive animals to their town like Tom Nook and K.K. Slider, and more.
Next, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is set to launch worldwide in late November, although Nintendo hasn’t yet confirmed a release date. You can pre-register to be notified as soon as the game hits the App Store in your supported country on Nintendo’s website right here.
As Nintendo continues to mount an impressive comeback, today the company has announced its next title coming to smartphones, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp. The cult classic title where players live amongst the animals and live a generally chill existence (while feeding Tom Nook’s capitalist machine) is coming in November to iOS and Android. More than a few fans of the franchise were… Read More