As it turns out, luring talking animals to your camp with pieces of furniture is not exactly a recipe for buckets of microtransaction sales. Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp has amassed over 15 million downloads in its nine days since launch, but according to new analysis from Sensor Tower, has only made $10 million from its players.
To put that in context, that’s far, far less than we saw from Fire Emblem Heroes over the same time period with $34 million, and also Super Mario Run with $24 million, a game that Nintendo admitted did not live up to its paid conversion expectations.
Also of note is that Japan is wildly overrepresented in spending here, responsible for 85% of Animal Crossing’s revenue, with players spending over $4 on average on the game there. The next closest country is Canada with just 25 cents per player, and in the US, players are only spending 12 cents on average on the game.
I hate to say I told you so, but I predicted his would happen at launch after spending time with the game myself. The problem? It’s just not a game that makes real-money purchases seem terribly urgent. That may result in a less obnoxious experience than other mobile titles, but it also means less revenue. You can pay to get Leaf Tickets for a variety of activities in Animal Crossing, from accessing off-limits farming areas to skipping build wait timers, but in the laid back world of Pocket Camp, none of it seems terribly urgent. I previously compared it to Clash of Clans where you might want to rush to get your defenses stronger or your army larger, but here, it’s hard to see all that many people spending cash to rapidly finish crafting a red couch so a talking dog will stop by your camp and say hello.
Pocket Camp also doesn’t seem to be sitting all that well with some Animal Crossing fans, who think it feels like a shorter, smaller, grosser (thanks to Leaf Tickets) version of something like New Leaf, and they find they’d rather be playing a full-fledged AC title. While the game is charming enough, the core feedback loop of fetch quests for animals that only serve to build furniture for the same animals to visit your camp feels like a well that runs dry pretty quickly.
Sensor Tower warns that it’s still early days for Pocket Camp so it’s hard to deem it a success or failure yet. But this does not seem like a game that will get players more invested over time, barring some major new additions to it, so I doubt there’s much Nintendo can do to really spike revenue in a meaningful way. Fire Emblem had always-profitable gacha mechanics, Mario Run had great core gameplay that was worth the $10 asking price. But I don’t think Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp has a way to convince players that yes, Leaf Tickets are worth purchasing. They just don’t seem that necessary, and the ultimate “goals” of the game aren’t anything you feel the need to race toward.
It will be interesting to see if Nintendo does anything to tweak Pocket Camp to try and extract more revenue from it, or like Mario Run, they’ll just let it underperform their expectations and move on to the next project. It’s not like it’s making them nothing, but Nintendo does seem to have trouble balancing core gameplay with profitable monetization. Not that everything should be gacha and loot boxes, but Animal Crossing does seem like the other extreme end where there’s barely any motivating factor for (non-Japanese) players to spend money on the title.
This is a story to watch, but so far, mixed results for Tom Nook and company here.
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