Nintendo has announced that Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp will now feature “fortune cookies” – which unhappy fans are pointing out seem a lot like loot boxes.
Announced on Animal Crossing’s official Twitter account, Fortune Cookies are available in the newly-added Fortune Cookie Shop in the game’s Market Place. When eaten, these cookies grant a random item of clothing or furniture dependent on the type of cookie bought.
The catch is that only some of these cookies will be available to purchase using Bells – the in-game currency – while others require Leaf Tickets, which can be obtained in-game by meeting certain goals but are more commonly acquired using real-world currency, with the highest-priced Leaf Ticket bundle costing $79 for 2.500 Tickets.
Visit Tommy in the Market Place to see the fortune cookies he and Timmy have carefully selected. Some have clothing in them. Some have furniture! #PocketCamp pic.twitter.com/uMjYgD4aej
— Isabelle (@animalcrossing) April 17, 2018
Reaction to the announcement on Twitter has been almost universally negative, with many fans complaining that the system adds an extra layer of expense to the game. Many users have been quick to note that Pocket Camp is marketed as a family-friendly game likely to be played by both adults and children, and to add a financial element could be seen as taking advantage of a young player base.
Other users directly reference previous loot box controversies and question the wisdom of entering into this market when so many mistakes have already been made.
In addition to the anger behind the decision, there is also confusion at the complicated nature of the system. Although Fortune Cookies can be obtained using Bells or Leaf Tickets, only certain Cookies are available for Bells. Buying a Cookie with Leaf Tickets earns players a stamp on their “Stamp Card”, which holds a maximum of 10 stamps – these Stamp Cards, when full, can be used to trade for other hard-to-get items. Some items require 10 full Stamp Cards, making acquiring these items even more expensive.
In Nintendo’s defence, each Fortune Cookie gives a clear indication of which items it provides as well as the chance of them appearing, but it’s unlikely that this will calm down fans who seem to see the move as simply a way to earn more money from players of the game. It remains to be seen how popular the feature will be moving forward, or whether Nintendo will respond to the negative reaction.
Given the various loot box controversies that have raged over the past few months, from official state Gambling Commissions considering bills on the subject to companies such as EA being forced to backtrack on loot box plans, you’d be forgiven for thinking video game companies would be steering clear of loot boxes for the time being.
For more on Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, check out our review of the game, or read more about Nintendo’s future plans for mobile games.
Matt Davidson is a freelance writer for IGN – he’s also available over on Twitter, if that floats your boat.