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Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Why Would You Join the Pocket Camp Club?

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Some folks still play this, for some reason. Perhaps not for much longer!

Full, upfront disclosure: My experience with Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is about as limited as watching the Animal Crossing Mobile Direct two years ago with the rest of the KoopaTV staff, and watching someone play the game for a few minutes during Thanksgiving 2017. The key verb there was “watching.” I never played it. Still, I think I'm qualified to commentate on this news, because with any announcement from Nintendo there's both an audience of existing consumers, as well as non-players who might just become interested based on the information. And I do have non-mobile Animal Crossing experience so I have a reference point.

Right after making some very controversial changes to the Gulliver's Ship feature that greatly distorted the established resources→reward ratio (as well as making it more difficult to rid oneself of duplicate inventory), Nintendo announced two new $3 or $8 per month subscription services for Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, collectively called the “Pocket Camp Club.”

(The new update also made Gulliver's Ship better.)

There are two membership options. The Happy Helper Plan, and the Cookie & Depot Plan. I'm not sure if you can subscribe to both, though let's briefly discuss why you'd subscribe to either optional plan.

Those link to YouTube videos, by the way. They have atrocious and underwater like:dislike ratios. 

Animal Crossing Pocket Camp Club Cookie & Depot Happy Helper subscription plans cost
If I put these two Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp subscription plan screenshots side-by-side, it turns into a normal aspect ratio!

The helper in Happy Helper is designating one of the animals (but not a special one like Isabelle) as a camp caretaker that basically plays the game for you. As the website puts it, “the camp caretaker will fulfill requests, gather items needed for events, and generally give you support around the campsite.” I'm not sure what the point of this plan is. If you don't have the time to play the game, why would you pay money to have it pay and play itself? Just stop your Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp engagement entirely. And if you do have time for the game but you don't find doing requests and camp upkeep to be entertaining, perhaps you should also stop playing the game and move on to something more fun. It's no longer your thing.

The Cookie & Depot involves getting five fortune cookies a month from a wide range of available cookies. For context, fortune cookies in Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp are themed after the tastes of the animals you may befriend, and if you break open a cookie, a special themed furniture item or clothing pops out. There are multiple items that could pop out per cookie, and they have different percentage chances. These themed cookies are time-limited, and cookies from a year ago might not ever appear again in normal gameplay. You might have permanently missed something cool that your favourite animal (and by extension, you) would be into! As for the depot, that refers to item storage warehouses. Helps the inventory problem.

It's all really similar to Fallout 76's Fallout 1st subscription (solving storage problems via paid subscription), plus the Gold Pass for Mario Kart Tour (access to otherwise uncirculated, non-guaranteed gacha). I conceptually dislike both and find all of these subscription schemes to be an easy way to separate players of bad games away from their money.

Both plans also have shorter crafting times (how long it takes to go from raw materials to items) as well as monthly articles that are guaranteed to be worse than KoopaTV content.

If that's your idea of fun, go ahead. My idea of fun is KoopaTV, where not only do you get free and regular content that doesn't go away, but participating with KoopaTV gets you entered into the also-free (for you—absolutely not free for ME) KoopaTV Loyalty Rewards Program, as well as a stake in the future of the universe. No big deal. 

To answer the headline's question, you'd join the Pocket Camp Club if you have a questionable taste in games and bad financial judgment. For the rest of you, this is why it's important to not support the direction that mobile gaming is trying to pull the rest of the industry toward. Ludwig fundamentally doesn't support a game called Pocket Camp that requires you to have an always-on Internet connection to play it. Seems contradictory.

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