Why demand for Animal Crossing merch is growing

Wired's GeekDad and Family Gamer editor Andy Robertson on why Nintendo's unusual brand is getting involved with the collectables market.
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There are some videogames that tie merchandise into the fabric of the game. 

Disney Infinity and Skylanders use toy figures to access characters and features for example.

However there are some other games that have spun off their own merchandise based on the popularity of the game itself.

An interesting example here are the Animal Crossing games that have been steadily growing in popularity on Nintendo consoles since they first launched on the Gamecube. This is a video-game with a difference - rather than an experience that you play through and finish, Animal Crossing offers a world that changes according to the real world’s seasons and time of day. 

Players manage a small island town in the game and are tasked with various chores, like making money, collecting fish and catching insects. It all gets quite addictive, but to collect all the species you need to play the game at different times of the day - sometimes late at night. Additionally you need to play through the year as certain fish are only found in certain months.

To this collecting play, the game adds a large cast of other townsfolk that players talk to and interact with. It’s here that a whole raft of different merchandise is found. These characters are available as collectable dolls, key chains and most recently the Tye Cacha Box Bell Danglers. 

These sealed eggs hold within them a collectable Animal Crossing key chain and duplicate the in-game “collectamania” with a physical item to collect. My children have even gone as far to spend their pocket money importing them from far flung places.

With the newest game in the series, Animal Crossing New Leaf, about to hit stores mid June, I suspect the desire for related Animal Crossing paraphernalia will grow stronger. 

I’ve tasked a test family with playing the game together for Family Gamer TV, and it’s been interesting to see in the Animal Crossing Daily Diary videos how they have all slowly got involved – both girls, boys and mum.

About the author

Skylanders, video games and tech expert Andy Robertson is editor of GamePeople.co.uk, writes Wired's GeekDad column and runs Family Gamer TV.

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