Opinion: Online Expansion pricing really overshadowed a pretty big Animal Crossing Direct

Last week, we got a big Animal Crossing: New Horizons Direct. While the game has become somewhat of a cultural phenomenon when it launched (and we loved it), it seems many had dropped off the game because of the lack of ongoing support. Well, it seems Nintendo was doing a lot of work in the background. In the free update, players can look forward to new characters including: “Brewster and his café, the sea shanty singing Kapp’n who will take players to other islands with his boat; newly opened shops in the plaza on Harv’s island and… the introduction of cooking and new vegetables to grow”.

Plus, if that wasn’t enough there was also a big reveal regarding a paid-DLC addition to the game called the Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Happy Home Paradise. It’s basically a big Switch New Horizon‘s version of 2015’s Happy Home Designer. Nintendo describes it as follows:

Join Lottie and the Paradise Planning team. In their new role, they’ll travel to a chain of charming islands where they can design vacation homes, decorate island facilities – like a school and a restaurant – and discover new ways to create and personalise as they gain experience designing the dream vacation homes for their clients

It looks like a lot to look forward to and a big reason for players to come back to the game. It was announced at $24.99 and will be available (like the free update) on the 5th of November,

Unfortunately…

Nintendo then surprised many with the reveal that the DLC would also be available as part of Nintendo’s Online Expansion Pack (along with N64 and SEGA Genesis/Mega Drive games). While this could theoretically be a great announcement – the unexpectedly high pricing reveal for the Expansion Pack $49.99 (or R629.00 locally) for the single-person 12-month plan, made everything a little less cut and dried. I’ve got to admit when I watched the Direct and saw the price I was pretty confused. In fact, Justin Davis provided a really clear Twitter thread which a really want to credit because my thoughts will very much echo his – you can check out the thread here. However, in short, my concerns around the announcement can be broken down as follows:

  • It more than doubled the price of the current online service (locally from R262.00 to R629.00)
  • Nintendo’s online stability and general online strategy has traditionally been seen as inferior. Yes, Nintendo’s classic software is a big pull, however, I think it was because it was substantially cheaper than anything Sony and Microsoft were offering that it managed to avoid most direct comparisions. However, at $50 the Switch Online pricing gets rather close to their competitiors – meaning those comparisons will be harder to avoid and I’m not sure that’s a good thing (whether or not you think the new price is reasonable or not – which is rather subjective).
  • Because we got the standalone price for the Happy Home Paradise DLC ($25) – adding it to the Expansion Pass makes it seem like the addition of the N64/Mega Drive Games only cost $5 ($50 minus $25 minus $20 (for the standard online service)). Now, we know that is likely not the case in reality (especially considering license issues etc) – but structuring it like that defintely gives that impression. Plus, it’s not like there is a clear overlap between people keen to play classic games and people that want to design their dream holiday home; So the pairing itself seems a little odd.
  • The point above is made worse, when you consider that at least some people will not own New Horizons or will not be interested in the DLC – so for them it feels like they are paying $25 ‘extra’ dollars for not reason.
  • This would be alleviated if we knew the DLC was a true ongoing add-on perk and would be applied to other first-party DLC for other games in the future – but Nintendo didn’t say so one way or another. So, naturally, we assume the worst.
  • Even for New Horizons players that were keen to purchase the DLC – buying the Expansion Pass instead – means that as far as we know, if they ever decided to opt out of the subscription service they would also lose the DLC.
  • Anyone that wanted to ensure they could keep the DLC indefinitely and pay for the N64 and Megadrive games at least for now – would have to purchase the standalone DLC AND the expansion pass.

As you can see many see this as a giant misstep or at least a very perplexing move from Nintendo. Now, don’t get me wrong – some people (probably myself included) may feel the R629 price tag is well worth it – particularly if you consider that this equates to just over R50 a month. Plus, if you get a family plan at R1129.00 the per person/per month cost is even cheaper once your share it around. I’m super excited for N64 and Mega Drive games – and the pricing is really only a little higher than what I was expecting. However, I can’t help but feel that Nintendo should’ve structured it differently – or at the very least postpone the announcement.

Now, unfortunately, it’s tough to get too excited over the really good Animal Crossing update – which was substantial and really interesting-looking – when you’re so confused, irritated or maybe even mad at the expansion pack cost and that’s all that anybody wants to talk about.

Nintendo Nerd, sharing my love of Mario with the world one pixel at a time.

Lost Password