Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer is a game in which owners must buy and use Amiibo cards in order to play different chunks of the game, and we recently learned that Nintendo is selling them in blind packs—meaning you have no idea which handful of the three hundred different cards you’ll get when you commit to spending your money.
This is one of the subjects we discuss on
this week’s episode of Nintendo Week, our Nintendo-themed podcast here at Gamnesia. You can check out the discussion video above to hear our full thoughts on this distribution method, or keep reading for a brief (albeit admittedly less fun) summary.
What they’re going for is a setup mirroring trading card games, which is a perfectly reasonable and respectable goal. What they may or may not realize, though, is that this setup is fundamentally broken as a method of distributing game content. It works for trading card games, Alex explains, because there’s a certain lottery aspect to finding a rare card, and the card itself is the prize. Here, the prize is content that’s already included in the $40 base game, and you now have to rely on a combination of additional piecemeal payments and sheer luck just to access it. “You shouldn’t have to feel like you’re entering the lottery just to play a certain slice of a game,” he says.
It wouldn’t be quite so bad if the game were free-to-start, because then the Amiibo card purchases would work like physical versions of microtransactions. Sure, not knowing what game content you’re paying for is still not great, but at least you’re not just paying for access keys to on-disc DLC in a game you’ve already paid full price for. But all signs point to
Happy Home Designer launching as a full retail game, which means no matter their intentions, the content rollout for Happy Home Designer is a terrible way of charging players more money for content that isn’t more meaningful.
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