The ESRB's tags are vague, but could full-blown microtransactions be on the horizon, or is it just DLC?

Will Animal Crossing: New Horizons Have Microtransactions? [Update]

The ESRB's tags are vague, but could full-blown microtransactions be on the horizon, or is it just DLC?

[Update: 2/13] The Animal Crossing: New Horizons game page on the Nintendo of America webpage was updated to remove the in-game purchases tag. Why, we don’t know. However, it does bring the rating in line with other titles like Pokemon Sword and Shield that offer expansions and links to Nintendo Switch Online, but don’t have the in-game purchases tag. The original story continues below.

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The ESRB made its rating tags for Animal Crossing: New Horizons available recently, ahead of the game’s full rating description, and there’s some interesting information to glean from it. Animal Crossing: New Horizons is rated “E for Everyone,” as expected, but there’s an “In-Game Purchases” tag attached to the online portion.

It’s the tag the ESRB recently introduced as a way to combat exploitative microtransaction practices and potential gambling issues.

What that means for Animal Crossing is pretty vague, though. The ESRB has a fairly long list of factors that lead to an In-Game Purchases tag, from cosmetic bundles and pay-to-continue mechanics to season passes, expansions, and playable characters.

It’s highly doubtful we’ll see Nintendo make anyone pay to have Bob move into town (though I’d pay to have Hazel leave, just sayin’). And it’s equally doubtful furniture and the like will be locked behind some kind of mobile-esque subscription pass like Fire Emblem Heroes just got.

Since Nintendo Switch Online is required for multiplayer, New Horizons might have a place where players can buy it in the game itself, like Pokemon Sword and Shield have. It could even be that Nintendo has plans for some kind of expansion content further down the road, also like Sword and Shield have.

Whatever it is, we know it won’t be paying to get a second island on one console, so you’ll have to perform the restock ritual and get that New Horizons-themed Switch after all.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons launches for Nintendo Switch on March 20. Stay tuned to GameSkinny for more Animal Crossing news as it develops, and check out our Animal Crossing fan art roundup while you wait.


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Josh Broadwell
Josh Broadwell started gaming in the early '90s. But it wasn't until 2017 he started writing about them, after finishing two history degrees and deciding a career in academia just wasn't the best way forward. You'll usually find him playing RPGs, strategy games, or platformers, but he's up for almost anything that seems interesting.