Animal Crossing Pocket Camp on Smart Devices is of course still going strong 5 years on… But something pretty big is affecting the gaming industry right now in Austria, and if the history of Animal Crossing is anything to go by, Pocket Camp could be in trouble, and could potentially be Banned or Removed from the App Stores altogether, at least in parts of Europe…
Now, something pretty significant has just happened in Austria surrounding Sony and FIFA… Don’t worry, this will completely loop back round to Animal Crossing, I promise, just bear with me. In the last couple of weeks, in a case against Sony, regarding FIFA, courts have decided that Loot Boxes, in one form or another, violate the Gambling Laws in Austria.
This is essentially because in certain instances, players are of course paying (such as spending money to get more FUT 23 Coins) for random drops and not necessarily knowing the outcome, or what they’re actually purchasing. Specifically, I believe where certain rewards hold a monetary value, and therefore almost certainly fall under the gambling umbrella.
Anyway, the court ruled in favour of FIFA players, and to cut a long story short, have ordered Sony, the Platform, rather than EA, the publishers of FIFA, to pay out these claims, and pay back Loot Box charges to the Players. It’s a pretty complex issue, so if you want to learn more about that specific case, definitely google it.
Now, despite this specific case affecting FIFA and PlayStation, it’s likely going to have an impact on Loot Boxes and gaming in general, as it’s set a new precedent in Austria, surrounding this type of monetisation.
Anyway, I’m sure you know where I’m going with this, but Animal Crossing Pocket Camp, which is still played by millions all around the world, including a Loot Box mechanic very similar to this. If you head to the Market Place in Pocket Camp, you can, of course, spend Leaf Tickets, which is Pocket Camp’s Premium Currency on a Fortune Cookie, that once opened awards a random ACNH Items.
In many instances, players can even spend real-life money to obtain these Fortune Cookies. Now whether or not, new laws come in (because of the Sony Case) to prevent this type of monetisation surrounding Loot Boxes and alleged gambling violations, it’s likely to become a bigger issue in Austria and surrounding regions and create a bit of a grey area for games like Pocket Camp.
And I wouldn’t be surprised if Nintendo are already looking into this further… With this in mind, there’s every possibility that Pocket Camp, or any game that includes Gacha Mechanics or Loot Boxes like Fortune Cookies, could be banned in European Regions. And even if they don’t, Nintendo could decide they don’t want to risk it, and pull the game down anyway and remove it from App Stores…
Now, I know what you’re thinking, this is all speculation, I’m jumping to conclusions, and leaping to the worst-case scenario… Now whilst I am speculating here, we have seen this exact situation occur in the past in Belgium in 2019, again in Europe, when Nintendo literally removed both Animal Crossing Pocket Camp and Fire Emblem Heroes from the App Stores in that region.
This happened when Belgium introduced anti-gambling laws, creating a grey area for Loot Boxes in video games, and then led to new laws being passed that banned Loot Boxes altogether in video games. Interestingly enough, Belgium’s governing bodies at the time, also ordered the likes of FIFA to removed Loot Boxes from their games in the Region… which I believe they did, with the understanding that if they didn’t they’d face millions in fines and even prison time.
However, even now, Animal Crossing Pocket Camp cannot be downloaded or played legitimately in Belgium and some neighbouring counties. And rather than removing the Fortune Cookies when this happened in 2019, Nintendo removed the entire game.
So, with new headlines surrounding Loot Boxes in Austria, with all eyes on Loot Boxes in a new region, and the likely hood of new laws coming in, it’s possible it’s only a matter of time until history literally repeats itself 4 years later, in another European country, and Pocket Camp is removed. Of course, this is a worst-case scenario.
There’s every chance Nintendo would simply remove Fortune Cookies this time around, rather than the whole game, especially now the game includes even more Monetisation models, but who knows, maybe this particular issues starts and ends on PlayStation, and Pocket Camp continues to thrive.