Animal Crossing: New Horizons is one of the best new games of the year. And now that April is here, players have even more to do on their island village. That’s because the Bunny Day event has begun, which is the game’s analog for Easter. But while this introduces a fun celebration to New Horizons, it also shows how Nintendo is putting more of an emphasis on timed events than ever before.
Bunny Day is officially April 12, but the lead-up to the event has already begun. This means that players will find Zipper, who’s in a bunny suit hopping around their island. They probably got that name due to the giant zipper on the back of the costume. If you talk to Zipper, they will inform you that they will return to celebrate Bunny Day. In the meantime, however, you can get prepared for the event in a number of ways.
One of those activities includes finding eggs, which act as a new DIY crafting material. Zipper has hidden eggs everywhere. You can get them from balloons floating overhead or even from fishing in water. And you can then use those eggs to build Bunny Day-themed furniture … if you find all the DIY recipes that Zipper also hid around the world.
It’s a lot, and it definitely makes this kind of event feel more important to Animal Crossing. And that’s not necessarily a good thing.
The Zipper problem
One of the key mechanics of Animal Crossing is its real-time clock. It’s always the same date and time in your game as it is in the real world. This enables the series to sync up to real-time holidays.
In past games, like 3DS’s New Leaf, holidays were just one-day special events. Bunny Day ran from 6 a.m. on Easter to 6 a.m. the next day.
New Horizons stretches out Bunny Day over nearly two weeks, and that has some potential side effects.
Some people don’t like Bunny Day
A big problem with an extended Bunny Day is that some people just don’t like it.
I love Zipper. They seem like a serial killer, and I dig that vibe. Some people, understandably, do not.
What’s even harder for people is if they don’t enjoy the Easter-themed DIY items. Because you need eggs to build that furniture, eggs are everywhere. This means you’ll often catch an eggs instead of a fish. And if you chop wood, an egg might come out. If you don’t care about those items, it can get annoying fast.
me after catching two eggs in a row instead of fish pic.twitter.com/b4PTFalZPg
— shan murphy (@heyshanmurphy) April 1, 2020
Animal Crossing: New Horizons feels like other live-service games
Bunny Day could prove an even bigger problem if you do like it, though.
The issue is that the structure of the event amps up the potential for the fear of missing out. And this FOMO has turned into a big part of many modern games — especially those that work as a live-service.
Time-limited in-game events serve as a way to keep players engaged. If you don’t play right now, then you could miss out on something special.
Animal Crossing has always worked this way, of course. If you miss Toy Day in December, you have to wait a year to get a chance to partake the following year.
But by expanding an event out over 12 days, Nintendo has also inflated what it means to actually participate in the event.
When you first talk to Zipper, they tell you that if you build all of the egg furniture by April 12, then you will get a special prize. But you also have to play consistently throughout the event because Zipper is going to hide more DIY recipes in the world as the event progresses.
And each of those recipes requires you to have plenty of eggs, so you need to spend your time gathering up those materials.
So New Horizons’ special events are no longer about showing up on the day. It’s about persistent engagement, and that comes with the risk of burning players out or alienating anyone who doesn’t have the time.