Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp slowly went from underwhelming to actively bad

When animal crossing: Pocket camp came out two years ago, Animal Crossing fans were thrilled.

It was finally a way to enjoy Animal Crossing in miniature form, and, despite following the usual mobile game model of waiting hours to play songs at a time, I was happy. I loved mobile games and I loved Animal Crossing. It seemed like the perfect solution.

The game in pocket camp has never been truly amazing. You completed mundane tasks, like catching fish or gathering fruit, then handed those items over to villagers for bells and crafting materials.

While the “work” of the game itself was always boring, the reward was decorating your campsite, complete with your favorite villagers. This aspect of the game was rewarding and endearing. Seeing my favorite Animal Crossing characters interact with the furniture and objects at my campsite was satisfying, and that’s why I kept coming back for those first few months.

I put a lot of time and effort into setting up my campsite
Nintendo via Polygon

But then special fortune cookies were added to the game, and you could buy them with Leaf Tickets, which were Pocket Camp’s premium currency. Just like in regular Animal Crossing games, Fortune Cookies gave you random special furniture, with pocket campFortune cookies are more ostensibly themed and styled after various villagers.

Julian had a constellation fortune cookie with astrology-inspired furniture. Marshall had a bakery-themed fortune cookie that offered coffee tables, a kitchen set, and various treats.

They were the only things worth spending premium currency on, at least for a while, and that was fine. Not great, but fine. But things didn’t stop there.

An in-game menu of new clothes to buy in Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, but it's only available for premium currency

All of this costs premium currency!
Nintendo via Polygon

The game started asking for Leaf Tickets for things that were purchased with Bells. Almost a year after the game’s launch, the new clothes were replaced with “event clothes”, which required Leaf tickets. Even new villagers have stopped being released as free content; new characters were quickly locked behind “maps” that required me to use rare items to roll a dice, forcing a character to take steps on a game board until they reached the objective. Even getting the cards required the use of resources, locking in previously free characters behind multiple layers of payment.

Over time, in-game events also began to demand more attention from players. If you only opened the game once a day, you couldn’t get the rare furniture. You had to be a dedicated player, making sure to open the game and complete the necessary task every three hours or so. This meant I had to open the game and make sure I grew more flowers or caught more fish according to a set routine, otherwise I couldn’t complete the event.

Of course, I could always spend Leaf Tickets to catch up, if I slipped. None of this was fun or interesting. The game kept demanding Afterotherwise I couldn’t access the part of the game I was there to enjoy.

More and more updates have been released over time – and they’re not all bad. But alongside solid quality of life updates, changes have required even more time and money to invest in the game. An update changed the system to unlock villager maps, which was annoying, but at least helpful for getting rid of duplicate furniture. Of course, you can speed up this process by spending Leaf Tickets.

A menu showing the game screen when purchasing Leaf Tickets in Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp

Leaf tickets aren’t cheap either
Nintendo via Polygon

It’s not even the grind that bothers me. I’m used to the mobile game formula. I sat and played the same song for hours to get a .png of an anime girl in my idol rhythm games, I understand how mobile savings work.

But the changes of Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp means i have now grind, or pay straight, for fun in a setting that normally focuses on relaxing and taking things at your own pace. Why I allow Nintendo to continue to walk all over me, weaponizing this IP I love, is beyond me, but I now worry every time I hear Nintendo bringing ownership to mobile devices. The spirit that made me love Animal Crossing was there, in diluted form, in Pocket Camp when the game launched, and now I feel like they keep pushing to see what I’ll tolerate. before stopping completely. And that sounds disgusting.

When I play an Animal Crossing title, I seek to get away from reality and relax with animal friends. pocket camp stopped being relaxing and became something to just replace the Animal Crossing shaped hole in my heart until New Horizons versions. I haven’t completely stopped playing the game, and I guess for Nintendo that means they’re doing something right. I do not agree.

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp was reviewed using an iOS download from the Apple App Store after the game launched. You can find additional information on Polygon’s Ethics Policy here.

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