Animal Crossing: Burning Out?

In early March, frankly, the world was bored. That’s why on March 20th, the release of ‘Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ proved to be an escape for people of all ages! New Horizons is the fifth major game in its series, and it is perfect for chilling out. The game allows you to cultivate an island while scampering around as yourself, in cartoon form. Your island has resources like a town hall, a store, a museum, and a clothing shop, with other animal villagers coming to live on your island with you. As you progress through time, you can collect different things such as bugs, fish, DIY recipes, and furniture. There are no “levels”, as people mainly just develop their island further, and do as they please.

There is no real ‘end goal’, which is what perhaps makes it so appealing. The game has attracted crowds of people around the world, each of whom can cater their island life to the way that they want to play. Many people enjoy fishing, some enjoy designing their islands, some prefer just taking in the scenery. This method of gaming has proved to be successful; as of May, New Horizons had drawn in over 11 million people. Many players played every day for multiple months. However, the net popularity has gone down significantly since the release. Newer players are still enthralled with the entertainment of it all, but many other players have experienced something the newer players have not been introduced to: burnout. 

Older games in the Animal Crossing series like ‘City Folk’, ‘New Leaf’, and ‘Wild World’ never enjoyed an audience quite as large as the one for New Horizons, but the audience for these other games has stayed pretty consistent. With the development of New Horizons, it would seem like the major new factors of the game would increase consistency, but the update seemed to be more like a burden than a luxury, and with a price of $60.00, many people are wondering if the game is worth it. Lizzie Coats, a Raleigh Charter sophomore and Animal Crossing aficionado, is one of many who feel they have exhausted the game.

Although she feels the Animal Crossing craze is over, Lizzie remarks, “I think a lot of people have said that they wish they didn’t get it, but I think that I did get a lot of fun out of it, so it’s worth it… It’s kind of timeless.” Lizzie shares that she had played the game for a while, but then started playing “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild”, and “completely dropped off.” Many other players are like Lizzie — they find an escape in playing the game, but over time, the burnout hits. Lizzie feels that “eventually, you kind of find yourself forcing yourself to play… It kind of gets monotonous after a while.”

This lack of interaction has not gone unnoticed, especially by Nintendo. In fact, this disinterest was prepared for, too. Nintendo has launched a series of free updates, which on average are released every month. These updates have contained everything from holiday events, to seasonal DIY recipes, to entirely new game aspects. Lizzie noted that she thinks the updates are helpful in increasing the net amount of players, but “they should definitely add more stuff to do — I played the prequel to this, which is New Leaf, and there’s a lot more that you can do.” Despite the updates, it is safe to say that popularity of the game has decreased since release. Like all games, however, there are still players that have been consistent with the game. Many players are still enticed by the game, and still find entertainment in playing every day.

Who’s to say New Horizons won’t pick back up again? Like all games, popularity comes and goes. If you find entertainment in talking to animals, buying clothes from a hedgehog, and owing endless debts to a raccoon wearing a sweater vest, then the game may be a worthy investment. Needless to say, many people have found joy in playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and the future of the game is promising.