Earlier this week, the ESRB rating on Nintendo’s website for Animal Crossing: New Horizons made mention of “in-game purchases” being a feature of the title. Now, that rating has been updated and it seems microtransactions won’t be a thing in Nintendo’s idiosyncratic life simulator. What happened?
It is very unlikely that Nintendo heard the blowback and shifted gears. For an update this big to happen so close to release is just not feasible. What’s likely the case is that the ESRB used the wrong rating in its initial post. The original was possibly posted in error and now the ESRB has corrected that error. Why it isn’t talking about it is unknown, but at least New Horizons won’t be devolving into some gacha game nonsense.
It should also be noted that “in-game purchases” doesn’t have to specifically refer to microtransactions. Fire Emblem: Three Houses launched last year with that very rating attached to it and that simply referred to the game’s DLC expansion. That doesn’t seem to gel with what Nintendo has done with previous Animal Crossing entries, though. The late Satoru Iwata even made it a point to say New Leaf would never receive paid DLC.
Whatever the reason for the confusion, at least Animal Crossing fans can rest easy. It would be a real shame for Nintendo to take such a carefree and easy-going series and attach an ugly monetization model to it. The biggest joy in Animal Crossing is checking in daily to find new items, fish, bugs, and paintings for sale. Simply paying real money to get those would kind of defeat the purpose.
Then again, that hasn’t stopped other publishers from throwing in similar systems into their own games. I suppose if someone really wants to spend money to not play a game, it doesn’t hurt my enjoyment of avoiding that system. It would just be nice to see gaming return to a time when interacting with the title was the main draw instead of seeing how much money you can spend.
Right now, I really just want New Horizons to come out. It’s been too long since my last Animal Crossing fix and I’m starting to get twitchy.
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