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.

If you like this video, you can
subscribe to Nintendo Week on iTunes, where we release new episodes every Wednesday. If you don’t like long-form podcasts, you can subscribe to us on YouTube, where our discussion segments are uploaded on Thursdays, and these select snippets from the rest of the podcast—which we call NWC—are uploaded throughout the week. If you like what you hear, we’d love it if you leave us a review on iTunes, or send us your feedback! We’d love to know what you think of the show, and how you think we can improve it.

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Colin McIsaac
I first played Donkey Kong Country before even turning three years old, and have since grown into an avid gamer and passionate Nintendo fan. I started working at Zelda Informer in August 2012, and helped found Gamnesia, which launched on February 1, 2013. Outside of the journalism game, I'm an invested musician who loves arranging music from video games and other media. If you care to follow my endeavors, you can check out my channel here: http://youtube.com/user/pokemoneinstein I was rummaging through some things a while back and found my first grade report card. My teacher said, "Oddly enough, Colin doesn't like to write unless it's about computers or computer-type games. In his journal he likes to write about what level he is on in 'Mario Land,' but he doesn't often write about much else." I was pretty amused, given where I am today. Also I have a dog, and he's a pretty cool guy. I don't care for elephants much. I suppose they're okay. You've read plenty now; carry on.

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