Nintendo tries to outsmart the bell barons of Animal Crossing

Nintendo tries to outsmart the bell barons of Animal Crossing
Credit: Nintendo

Nintendo introduced its April update to Animal Crossing: New Horizons, which has introduced such lovely things as an art gallery, Nature Day, and… a rejiggering of the in-game economy? One which might have come about because players are exploiting in-game resources to become absurdly wealthy?

Okay, an explanation of how we got here might be in order.

Read: Pokémon Go offers stay-at-home raids to keep people inside

Animal Crossing‘s allows players to accrue bells, the in-game currency, by selling off various natural resources. The idea is that you’ll then use those bells to spruce up your island — or, as one player did, make an exact replica of Hyrule. But some gamers have been taking advantage of the in-game market to do some pretty shady things — including insider trading on the Stalk Market and a whole swapping mechanism devoted to moving specific villagers to in-game islands, like some kind of demented, semi-literal banana republic. Others are just sitting on vast reserves of bells like Scrooge McDuck, having gotten there by some choice turnip selling.

Now Nintendo appears to be trying to fix this absurd situation by making a small change to the in-game bank. Starting from when you download the update, the Bank of Tom Nook (because of course that tricksy little shit is involved) will inform you that the interest rate on bells has gone down. This will mean you’ll earn less on saved bells over time, but to compensate you’ll get a lovely rug. So it won’t necessarily stop the people who’ve already made it big as bell barons in-game, but it’ll stop some of us from replicating their feats.

I’ve been gaming for the better part of my entire life, and sometimes my fellow gamers still manage to surprise me. Under better circumstances, I’d ask who has the time on their hands to become a full-on bell kingpin in Animal Crossing, but under these circumstances that would be rather cruel. In fact, considering the state of the world, I applaud these people for the productive use of their time — I’ve used the same time to become a casual player of about 20 games and have only managed to finish one or two. Clearly I’m not the one optimizing my quarantined state.

Is this going to fix the bonkers in-game economy? Probably not — Nintendo is vying against such forces as the Turnip Exchange and eBay sellers hawking multi-million bell packages. But Tom Nook can actually put the squeeze on savings accounts, so it appears Nintendo is using him to do just that.

You can download the Animal Crossing update now.

Read next: Pardon the Intrusion #16: Phishing in the time of COVID-19

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