– Dana R.H. Box –
At Nintendo’s E3 Press Conference, the screen went black, and a sanitized voice announced the words, “Nook Inc.” like a bass drop, it rocked the crowds with pure excitement, and the line is still being heralded in the trailer’s Youtube comments. As a lifelong Animal Crossing fan (my mom forgot to pick me up from school in kindergarten one day, because she was about to pay off the house loan to Mr. Tom Nook), my excitement, like many other fans,’ was not containable.
Then the release date appeared- March 20, 2020. My heart sank like when a furniture leaf slowly falls to the ground after shaking a tree. I have no shame in saying I bought a Nintendo Switch to play Animal Crossing (and Smash Brothers, but Animal Crossing primarily) with the original 2019 release date in mind. There are a lot of people who are waiting to buy a Nintendo Switch specifically for Animal Crossing, and Nintendo encourages this behavior by coming out with Nintendo Switch bundles that feature a Switch with a design of the game it’s bundled with. When 2020 rolls around, Nintendo Switch sales are going to rise, because Animal Crossing fans are buying switches to either be able to play the new Animal Crossing or have a switch with, we do not know yet, but possibly some grass triangles or favorite NPCs or juicy looking fruit..
It is well known that Nintendo banks on our love for its franchises. On top of that, it has been seven years since the last full-fledged Animal Crossing game came out, Animal Crossing: New Leaf. People are hungry for Animal Crossing: New Horizons. We are going to be eight years older by the time New Horizons is dropped, causing us to perhaps relate to former Animal Crossing: Population Growing mayor, Mr. Tortimer, more and more, both in life and in the game.
We served as mayor in New Leaf and are now going to an island in New Horizons to maybe semi-retire, by utilizing the “deserted island getaway package” from Nook Inc. and creating our perfect little hide-away through the traditional means of Animal Crossing- nesting, fishing, exploring, digging, terrorizing or befriending your animal neighbors, paying lots of in-game currency to Tom Nook, etc. If the game takes any longer to come out though, catch me joining the senior Tortimer, in making acorn jokes and calling the next generation “whippersnappers.” Furthermore, the mobile version of Animal Crossing, Pocket Camp, has also seen success, but this watered down version of Animal Crossing cannot tide us over forever. The result is, Nintendo can expect strong sales numbers with Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
With all the desire and excitement, and nearly guaranteed forecast for high sales, one would think Nintendo’s stocks would be like Nook Inc.’s stock, which I also assume is quite high. However, Nintendo’s stocks dropped by 3.5% after their E3 Press Conference, meaning their value was cut by one billion dollars. Investors were more disappointed than we were that the game was delayed until 2020, which got people to start talking about what we should expect from game companies and if the normal knee-jerk reaction to a delay is healthy for the video game industry.
There are different kinds of personalities that the villagers can have in Animal Crossing. The ones that are prone to being grumpy are akin to the people that are extremely upset that New Horizons was delayed. On the other side of the leaf, there are fans who are applauding Nintendo’s decision. The common consensus is, we would rather have the game be good than rushed and bad, even if it means we have to be like the players who do not time travel and have to have something called “patience.”
The matter goes beyond having patience. It actually points to a significant problem within the video game industry itself. The video game industry is quite young, and its growing pains are similar to other industries that preceded it, such as film. The timelines that game developers are often forced into, because of quarterly profit reports, holidays, or whatever the case may be, set them up for failure, unless they engage in the well-known practice within the industry called, “crunch.” To meet the unreasonable deadline, employees will work more than 40 hours in one week, some reporting multiple 80 hour weeks as the deadline approaches. They are usually salaried, meaning their true hourly wage is well below minimum wage, not to mention the huge impact it has on them as people and their families. Unlike the film industry which now has a plethora of unions and labor protections, the video game industry is currently in the process of forming these protections.
So one way to prevent crunch is to give the developer more time, which Nintendo did, even if that means the new Animal Crossing will not be available for Christmas. In general, Nintendo’s decision is seen as positive, unless one asks an investor in Nintendo. Perhaps investors need to take a note from and play Animal Crossing, a game that is slower because it plays in real-time, that has no deadlines but has goals, and that has the greatest business…raccoon of all time.
What can Tom Nook, CEO of Nook Inc., teach these investors and the video game industry at large? The greatest business-raccoon of all time can show them that one can focus on long term profits not at the cost of short term profits, but to the benefit of both. Tom Nook had humble beginnings as a simple shop owner in a rural village and is now the head of a successful global corporation with different subsidiaries.
When you show up to Tom Nook’s town, without a job or place to live, Tom Nook provides work and supplies you with a mortgage that you can pay back as fast or as slow as you want- Tom Nook knows he will eventually receive those bells. In the meantime, he has other diverse sources of income to help his cash flow, such as a furniture store. He lets you have autonomy and the game is more enjoyable because of it, and Tom Nook still makes his money.
Just like how Nintendo is still going to turn a profit with Animal Crossing; although, it will be in a different quarter than originally planned. Investors and gamers alike should not be encouraging crunch, as it is destructive to people and to producing better games if they have to sacrifice quality for unreasonable deadlines. Part of this would be resolved if investors focused on long term profit instead of eclipsing it by their laser stare on short term profits.
Tom Nook would see that Nintendo’s portfolio will carry their cash flow in the meantime, and then those bells, I mean, dollars will start pouring in like when one’s island box is completely filled with high selling rainbow stags. And I for one, will be happily running with my mom to the store to purchase Animal Crossing: New Horizons as if a swarm of bees is chasing us on March 20, 2020.
About the Author
Dana graduated from JPCatholic in 2017 with a degree in Business.
Image Credit: Nintendo