You’ve probably heard at some point over the past year that Nintendo has promised three full years of content updates for Animal Crossing: New Horizons either in the news or from fellow fans, but is that really the whole story?
In this article, we’ll explore how the three years of Animal Crossing updates promise came to be, exactly what Nintendo has said, and offer our thoughts on why some fans might be misinterpreting it to mean more than it does.
Three Years Of Updates Promise Origin
In March 2020, tech outlet CNET published a lengthy interview with two major Animal Crossing: New Horizons developers at Nintendo — both Director Aya Kyogoku and Producer Hisashi Nogami.
Towards the end of the interview, they were asked about plans for expansion and future updates to the game. Aya Kyogoku took the lead and noted how they were still working on planning out the details, but she could share that an update for Bunny Day would be coming very soon.
That answer eventually led on to mention that the Animal Crossing developers “want to make sure that in two years or three years down the road, players will still continue to find new surprises in the game.” Furthermore, she added that “we hope to create an update that you can do that with.”
This was noted in the context of Animal Crossing: New Horizons being the type of game that syncs with the real-world time and date with seasonal changes to enjoy throughout the year.
Here’s the complete quote from CNET’s interview to read yourself:
CNET: How much do you see New Horizons evolving over time versus other animal crossing games? You know, are there possibilities of expansions or things like more fish or fossils? How far could this expand, and will there be future updates?
Kyoguku: So as far as the actual details and planning of the updates, we’re still working on it. We want you to wait for further details to be announced. But I can definitely say that I’m really sure there will be an update and this includes Bunny Day for April. Animal Crossing is a game where you’re able to enjoy seasonal changes throughout the year, and it syncs with real time and through that you are able to basically sync your real life with the game. We want to make sure that in two years or three years down the road, players will still continue to find new surprises in the game. So we hope to create an update that you can do that with.
Did Nintendo Really Promise 3 Years Of Updates?
First of all, we should note that the actual quote is “two or three years” — not three years. This might seem minor, but it’s an important distinction as most discussion about the promise tends to talk about three years, not up to three years. That’s a big difference!
In regard to the idea of ensuring that players continue to discover new surprises years down the line, that’s always been the selling point of Animal Crossing from Nintendo’s perspective since the beginning of the series, even without any content updates.
Kyogoku never actually says in the interview that there will be updates for two or three years down the line necessarily, just that they hope to create an update to the game that allows for new surprises to be found.
Some of the earliest Animal Crossing: New Horizons updates already helped to accomplish this objective, with new long-term goals like catching Sea Creatures and hunting pieces of Redd’s Art for the Museum introduced, or even visiting Dream Islands with Luna. All of those features were released after this interview.
Arguably, the modern internet has changed this concept of ‘new surprises’ in ways that Nintendo may have not expected. Discovering new surprises is just different when we live in a world now where a barrage of online creators, like this very website, can share every little detail before you might discover it yourself.
And for the more casual players of Animal Crossing: New Horizons — the ones that don’t spend time reading blogs or watching videos, but just simply play the game themselves — it’s likely still true. They’ll probably continue to discover some new fish or bugs in the second year that they missed in the first year for example.
Given that Kyogoku’s answer included the context of Animal Crossing’s real-time clock, we suspect she may have been putting a focus on seasonal events as well. The first year of Animal Crossing: New Horizons came packed full of event updates, and so far in 2021, Nintendo has been delivering minor updates for those recurring events too.
This year’s returning holiday events of Bunny Day, May Day, and International Museum Day all brought some new element to enjoy compared to last year — whether that be new items or changes to the event’s gameplay, like the new May Day maze design! Fans were certainly hoping for more than that, but they’re certainly still ‘new surprises’ to find.
The CNET interview is also the only time that Nintendo has made any comments of a grand 2 or 3 year update plan for Animal Crossing: New Horizons. There can certainly be a difference between a developer speaking off the cuff in an interview in vague terms, versus a more official announcement in a press release or trailer, so it’s important to note the latter has never happened.
Otherwise, both Nintendo of America’s Doug Bowser and Nintendo President Shuntaro Furukawa have made additional comments about updates or events continuing late last year. They were pretty vague on details with Bowser simply stating he can see updates continuing into 2021 and Furukawa suggesting they want consumers to keep playing for a long time. Neither indicated a specific timeline.
Nintendo’s Idea Of Updates Isn’t The Same As Yours
It’s worth pointing out that there are many different ideas of what counts as an ‘update’ to a game. Technically speaking, any sort of update to Animal Crossing: New Horizons, even just containing a couple new seasonal items is still an update.
But of course, in the eyes of most fans, it’s clear that they have higher expectations than that and so do we. When these fans talk about updates, they typically mean seeing their favourite characters like Brewster or Kapp’n join the game.
Arguably, the more modest updates of new Nook Shopping seasonal items we’ve been receiving lately do meet the concept of ensuring that “players will still continue to find new surprises in the game”. It doesn’t necessarily mean groundbreaking new major features, as much as we might hope it does.
Interestingly, Aya Kyogoku actually mentions later in the CNET interview that she thinks “the release version game has all the specs that we wanted to include in there” implying that Nintendo did consider the original game to be generally complete and not missing key components as many fans have argued.
In conclusion, there’s four main points that we believe should be taken away from last year’s interview that may have not come through in the initial reporting about three years of Animal Crossing: New Horizons updates.
- The developers simply said they want there to be new surprises years down the road, but it wasn’t quite a promise that this will absolutely happen as some have suggested. Plans can always change, and Kyogoku acknowledged that they were still working on it at the time.
- In terms of timeframe, the actual quote mentioned from the developers is “two or three years”, not definitively three years.
- New surprises doesn’t necessarily mean the same type of content that we imagine as players. This could refer to additions as simple as the Nook Shopping seasonal items that have continued to release this year. There was never any indication of major new features for three years.
- Discovering new surprises for years to come doesn’t necessarily require years of updates. Many casual Animal Crossing players will continue to experience new pieces of content without new updates.
It’s very well possible that we’ll continue to see major Animal Crossing: New Horizons updates for three full years, which would be amazing, but in our view it’s not nearly as definitive as some in the Animal Crossing community have implied. With some luck, announcements at E3 2021 will make Nintendo’s plans much clearer!
Share Your Thoughts
There’s no doubt this might be a controversial take, but it’s been brewing in my mind for some months now and the current news drought until E3 2021 seems like as good of a time as any to discuss it.
Let me know in the comments below what your thoughts are on the 3 years of updates promise — do you agree it might have been misunderstood by some, or do you believe we’ll continue to see major Animal Crossing: New Horizons updates for the next 3 years?
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