This article originally appeared on VICE US.
I despise capitalists, and Tom Nook is Animal Crossing’s foremost capitalist. His status as a shop owner turned landlord has become a meme among players. He’s constantly forcing you into new surprise loans to upgrade your house; everyone knows he’s a crook. Now, finally, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is here, and the game’s economy has given us a way to determine just how much of a crook he is.
In New Horizons, he’s expanded his various enterprises to include “getaway packages.” As the game opens, his nephews Timmy and Tommy get you ready for your new life on a deserted island. The very next day, Nook comes to you with a bill for 49,800 bells for the tent and the NookPhone he’s just given you. Luckily, he’s got a new company rewards program, so you can pay in NookMiles instead. After collecting some branches and shells, you pay off this bill. The next day, he offers you a new one: 98,000 bells for a house.
That’s when I saw that included in the original package was my very own in-game Nintendo Switch. A light went off in my head, and I promptly sold it, snagging a cool 7,495 Bells. Because the Nintendo Switch is an actual, real-life item with an MSRP, I had an anchor to perform some bells-to-USD conversions, to learn just how much Tom Nook was fucking me on this house loan. I did some quick math by dividing the MSRP price of a Nintendo Switch ($299.99) by the number of bells, for an exchange rate of $.04 per bell.
Turns out, the single room studio house was a very reasonable $3,920. With no interest and no payment plan, you could almost say that it was a steal! Maybe Tom Nook had taken to the slow pace of island life and was actually giving people a good deal, and was simply trying to recoup costs rather than finding a way to squeeze profit out of every nook and cranny. But like most “deals” under capitalism, there’s a catch. The day after I made my initial calculations I noticed that a new Nintendo Switch appeared in the shop.
29,980 bells?!? I realized that, like a GameStop, the trade-in-value of my precious Switch was much lower than what it would eventually be sold for. This means that each bell is roughly the equivalent of one (1) US cent. Sure that meant that the first house had only cost $980, but obviously Nook Inc was making a profit by reselling the items and materials I sold to them at a markup.
A 300% markup! As expected, a capitalist is always thinking of profits first. Sure, Tom is taking a hit on the house, but what he’s gaining is my labor, and for a paltry sum. Every piece of fruit, every fish, every bug that I sell, he’s turning into fat stacks of cash. I’m providing him with cheap labor by collecting these things, and then on day 3, he has the gall to “request” that I gather the materials to make a new brick and mortar shop! Day 4 he has me collect and build furniture for new getaway packages he sold before there was any housing for the new residents! It was clear that Tom Nook is still a crook, and I still hate him.
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