Animal Crossing; New Leaf released over half a year ago on 3DS, but with something new to see and do every single day it has continued to live on as small, relaxing part of many player's daily routine. While attending the Game Developers Conference last week, series creator Katsuya Eguchi and New Leaf Director Aya Kyogoku spoke with Joystiq about why this might be the case, and what form the franchise could take in future to incorporate mobile devices in the experience.
From the very beginning, Eguchi's vision has always been to create a ''secondary home'' for players, one which they will actively want to return to time and time again. This concept has grown exponentially with each new title, and an admirably diverse development team has helped to ensure that New Leaf can cater to a greater variety of different tastes and personalities than ever before. Staff were encouraged to submit furniture and clothing ideas no matter their overall role within the team, providing a huge amount of variation for eager Mayors to work with when creating their own personal world. More choice means a greater universal appeal, and helps make the village feel more and more like home.
Kyogoku's focus on community and interaction through Streetpass further integrates New Leaf with daily life, rewarding those who take it with them outside of the house. As you live in one world, time marches on in the other, prompting return visits to check in on favourite neighbours and blossoming flower gardens. It's a format that has many questioning why the series has not made the jump to mobile devices, to join the slew of management or city-building games on the app store. It wouldn't be too unusual either, with many companies now developing mobile counterparts of successful series such as Final Fantasy.
Eguchi was quick to confirm the series' continuation on Nintendo devices however, stating that
while some may enjoy Animal Crossing in short spurts, there are many that spend the time to meticulously organize their towns, down to the location of each and every flower.
These longer play sessions don't quite gel with the twitch mentality of smartphone gaming, and Eguchi believes that the 3DS lends itself better to the input Animal Crossing is suited to. So does this mean we'll never see Tom Nook on our phones? Not quite....
The mobile market has not been completely dismissed by Eguchi and his team. Rather, he sees the platform as a possible means to bring players back to the main Animal Crossing experience. While we're definitely not likely to see any near-future titles taking place entirely on smartphones, associated apps could potentially allow players to design clothes on the go, or act as personal reminder of in-game events. An app could alert you to buy a birthday present for Goose, or check Nookingtons for the big sale that afternoon.
Microtransactions — meaning additional in-game payments of real money for added features or items — are also mentioned, though have never fit with the team's vision. As with the real world, true enjoyment comes with the experience, and so unique items will always go hand in hand with the associated event.
Eguchi seems most open to the idea of apps when they supplement rather than intrude on the main game on Nintendo hardware. Are you excited to see these ideas come to fruition, or does the thought of a Resetti app fill you with dread? Leave us a comment below with your thoughts!