Animal Crossing: New Horizons has become a cultural watershed for people in quarantine. The life simulation video game for Nintendo Switch is a fun way to organize, craft, and even socialize with friends. But a new report by Polygon may shock gamers: a virtual economy thrives in Animal Crossing. Players seeking seasonal items and recipes (such as from the recent cherry blossom event) are willing to trade thousands or even millions of bells (the in-game currency) to acquire them!

Animal Crossing players in the Northern Hemisphere had their hardwood trees convert into “cherry blossom trees” from April 1st through April 10th. The short season mimics the relatively short flowering period of the real-life Prunus serrulata cherry tree. Unfortunately, many players weren’t able to acquire all the seasonal recipes or cherry blossom petals before the even ended.


Though players can time travel in-game to April 2021 for the next cherry blossom festival, many have found it easier to simply buy the items. The leading Animal Crossing marketplace, Nookazon (a portmanteau of “Tom Nook” and “Amazon”), launched an “Auction” feature earlier this month. The biggest auction thus far has been a bundle of 100 cherry blossom petals. The opening bid was 10,000 bells and the auction closed at a jaw-dropping 2.8 million bells.

The average price of a single petal is 25,000 bells, with a high of 40,000 bells. The average price for a DIY cherry blossom recipe is 100,000 bells, with a high of 8 million bells *and* 80 Nook Miles (tickets that allow travel between each player’s islands).

Getting the necessary materials for recipes (especially seasonal recipes) is one of the biggest frustrations of Animal Crossing. Half of Animal Crossing players prefer to enjoy their own games by collecting and crafting on their own (or trading with friends). The other half consistently hoards seasonal items and recipes until they’re no longer available. This Machiavellian tactic of selling when the market supply is low is all too familiar on Wall Street, but surprisingly cutthroat in a wholesome game like Animal Crossing.

What do you think? Do auctions for seasonal items spoil the game for you, or are you hawking cherry blossoms in the pit with all the other Nookazon traders? Ring the bell for more news about Animal Crossing and all your favorite video games!


This article was originally published on 5/8/20



Tyler Boyce
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