Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Image: Nintendo

Animal Crossing: New Horizons offers hours of fun all year round, but as veteran players will know, things get even more exciting when in-game events take over your precious island.

As you might expect, the festive season is a particularly joyous time – this weekend saw plenty of social media users sharing videos of their island's New Year countdowns as we entered 2021, and Christmas events like Toy Day made the long wait for Santa on Christmas Eve slightly more bearable. Players even had the opportunity to enjoy seasonal food items to celebrate.

But sadly, not everyone will have been able to enjoy these events. As it turns out, for these events to play out in-game, players need to reach a certain point of progression in building up their island and opening up the Town Hall. Depending on how you choose to play this can take a good while to complete, and anyone who hasn't yet met the requirements won't be able to see any of these special events in any shape or form.

Usually, this might not seem like much of a problem – unlocking more content by achieving in-game tasks feels rewarding, right? – but what about all the new players who will have been gifted a copy of the game over the festive period, possibly assuming they'd be able to join in with the celebrations that Nintendo has been advertising?

For Nintendo Life reader, Dennis, this exact situation caused disappointment for the whole family:

"Me, my wife and my two children love Animal Crossing and all have a copy of New Leaf on our 3DS systems. We especially enjoy the Christmas and New Years events. We only owned a single Nintendo Switch, so we didn't have the game there, until Christmas – where I surprised my wife and kids with a Switch Lite each, including Animal Crossing.

We were really looking forward to playing the Christmas and New Years events in New Horizons... We played for hours each day, but on Xmas and New Years NOTHING happened at our islands. No gifts, no countdown, not even a mention of it.

Turns out that for anything event-related to happen you need to level up your town centre. My wife played the most every day and managed to do this on Jan 2nd, my kids and I are still on it. So for anybody who got a Switch and Animal Crossing for Christmas it was IMPOSSIBLE to take part in the Xmas and New Years events. What a disappointment. There was nothing for new players, not even a mention or anything else."

A quick chat at Nintendo Life HQ reveals that a young family member also fell foul of the problem over the holidays as they hadn't yet completed the necessary tasks. Progression and content unlocks have been a thing in gaming for as long as we can remember, so it's hard to complain about the practice being used here, but could locking new players out of special, time-specific events be considered a bit of an oversight on Nintendo's part, especially surrounding the holidays?

Did you encounter a similar issue with New Horizons this holiday? Had you already played enough of the game to see the celebrations? Feel free to share your experiences in the comments below.