Animal Crossing’s Stalk Market, Much Like the Real Stock Market, Is Ruining Everything

The only things worth caring about are turnips. My neighbors are wondering where I am. A bucolic getaway has turned into something darker.
Animal Crossing’s Stalk Market, Much Like the Real Stock Market, Is Ruining Everything
Screengrab: Animal Crossing New Horizons

My first few weeks on the very chill island of Mary Jane in Animal Crossing: New Horizons were bucolic and happy. My girlfriend and I set up our tents, planted flowers, built a date spot to enjoy, and got our first houses together. There was nothing much to do but chop wood, hit rocks, and slowly get furniture recipes. It was a perfect escape, and then I learned about turnips and nothing was the same.


Turnips in Animal Crossing, if you don't know, are units of trade in the stalk market. Basically, you buy an ungodly amount of turnips from Daisy Mae on Sunday morning (the only time during the week when this is possible) and then watch the prices all week until you can sell them to Timmy and Tommy for a profit. There is no reason not to dump all of your bells into turnips every week; the more you put in, the more you stand to get out.

Quickly, turnips became the only reason I played Animal Crossing. Slowly chopping wood and whatnot just seemed pointless next to the possibility of a massive payday that could buy me whatever I wanted. And so, a game that was once a daily escape into a placid world of calm started to look like this: Take a 10 minute break from Call of Duty Warzone on Sunday morning to spend all of my bells on turnips. Then, I'd take 30 seconds to check the price twice daily and log them for tracking, sell, and log off until Sunday morning came around again.

I'm now on my third week of this, and I haven't touched Animal Crossing except to buy turnips, check prices, sell turnips, and buy again. My villagers have started to wonder where I am. Now that I'm in deep, it feels like there is essentially nothing else worth doing in this game besides playing the stalk market, and it also takes all week to accomplish. It's not a particularly good or satisfying feeling, it's just the only thing I can think to do in this game anymore that seems like progressing. As Dave Thier put it in Forbes:

"The rest of the economy is meaningless next to turnips, the only true way to build wealth, akin to working for minimum wage while traders shift fortunes worth more money than you and everyone you’ve ever met will see in their lifetimes."

Now, I'm hitting my first decreasing price trend, and facing losing nearly half of my investment in turnips this week. I am seriously considering logging on to Reddit or another social networking site to find someone I can sell turnips to at a decent price, making me even more beholden to the stalk market, and taking me further away from what this game was to me at the start. Even then, I'll have to watch out for scammers.

It's unclear to me whether, even if I hit some arbitrarily large number of bells, I will be able to return to my simple island existence, happy with my newfound ability to instantly transform my island as I please, or if I'm now stuck on a never-ending treadmill. Am I a victim of my own proclivities? Possibly. Should I just ignore turnips and settle for a more humble existence? Probably. But it's starting to feel like I've made a deal with the devil in a children's game filled with talking animals.