Hi! I'm a Journalism student writing gaming stories with the Hacker Noon Blogging Fellowship!
Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a hard game. There aren’t any staggeringly hard bosses and there aren’t any complicated puzzles to solve. It’s not difficult. But that’s what makes it hard for me. Simply put, I don’t have the patience to farm out Animal Crossing Bells. As much as I want a fully upgraded house, I can’t stomach logging in every day to shake some trees and dig up fossils. Fortunately, the powers of capitalism have kept the world turning and I was surprised to discover just how easy it was to engage in some real money trading and buy myself some bells.
Before going on, it’s important to understand that going off to buy Animal Crossing Bells is very clearly against the terms of service.
Back in July 2020, Nintendo explicitly stated that it considered the practice a violation of their terms of service. There’s an element of risk here since Nintendo probably won’t take kindly to this sort of activity but, hey, maybe I’ve been broken by microtransaction-ridden single-player games.
I’ve been aware of Real Money Transactions (the term Nintendo uses to describe this practice) for a while. It’s advertised fairly often on some fan pages and a quick google search gave me plenty of options.
Most of these websites look surprisingly legitimate for what they offer and generally sell the same things.
Taking advantage of Animal Crossing’s slowed-down progression, they sell the all-important Bells used to purchase items from the stores, Nook Miles tickets that can be vital for rapidly gathering crafting materials and a staggering variety of items, clothing and furniture. These websites offer a way for impatient players like me to get the items that they want with a fraction of the effort.
The items, clothing, and furniture are further broken up into collections that give you a full set of items fitting a theme. For example, the Christmas-themed furniture that would be ordinarily impossible to find in the game at this time can be bought in bulk to outfit a room.
Prices for everything vary between sites, which might indicate something suspicious going on. One site sells 12 million Bells for US$0.97 and another sells the same for US$10. Ultimately, I settled on one affiliated with a popular social media page simply because the prices seemed less dodgy.
I figured that 12 million Bells would probably see me through my whims.
For reference, earning a million Bells is an affair that can take days if not weeks to accomplish legitimately and with a lot of luck. That much money was twice the amount needed to get all the house upgrades, the biggest Bell sink in the game.
Getting the Ironwood furniture collection was also pretty high on my list since it had a fantastic modern look. Seeing that it would come with the recipes needed to craft the items again, I decided to pick those up too, just to see how it would go.
It was a nervous moment when I keyed in my credit card details. After all, there was no way to tell if the website was not a scam, despite how polished it looked. An email quickly popped up, giving me instructions to contact them on Facebook Messenger. I fired off a greeting and anxiously waited for a reply, worried that someone just ran off with my money.
I breathed a sigh of relief when they got back to me, cheerfully letting me know that they had the items ready and asked for my Island’s Dodo code. Minutes later, one person wearing the Mario outfit sauntered out of my airport, walked over to the beach, and began emptying their pockets for what felt like hours. Pieces of furniture and their recipes littered the ground in a mess that really brought the scale of what I had just done to life.
Interestingly, it’s quite inconvenient to buy Animal Crossing Bells.
There are limits to how many sacks of Bells one can carry and it’s quite impractical when it reaches 12 million bells. Instead, they do it by trading Royal Crowns, a clothing item worth 300,000 apiece.
Once they were done throwing my purchases around, I asked if a lot of people used this service. “We do get alot of orders ”, they replied and quickly returned to their own island.
Putting my ill-gotten gains away took longer than buying.
Now that Tom Nook is happily renovating my house and island with the stimulus package I had arranged, I’m a little torn on the experience. There’s no doubt that the entire exercise was a form of cheating. Simply removing the main yardstick for the game’s progression probably took out all of the fun for the game. Still, I can’t help but think that this is a little similar to using a Bell exploit or time traveling to get a pile of bells. Sure, I paid someone money for it but it did help me get around the most boring parts of the game, making me more excited to log in than before.
Sure, it’s likely that I’m not the right person to play a game like this. None of the milestones have been earned and the experience of playing the game has been cheapened. There are probably plenty of people who would say that people who engage in RMT both selling and buying should be strung up on a lamp post and beaten to death. It is, however, puzzling that there are so many websites blatantly offering this service.
Regardless, it’s out there if you want it and Nintendo clearly hasn’t done anything to stop it. Yet.
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