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Animal Crossing: New Horizons hilariously slashes in-game interest rates

Are games getting a little too realistic these days?

If you’re worried about the economic fallout being caused by the COVID-19 virus and are looking for distractions, Animal Crossing: New Horizons really isn’t offering much in the way of escapism. 

In line with the Federal Reserve, European Central Bank, and Bank of England, the main bank in Nintendo’s quaint adventure title (The Bank of Nook) is next up to slash interest rates for New Horizons’ in-game currency – bells. And the fastest selling digital title in history is now being review bombed on Metacritic. 

On Thursday, the update went live complete with a letter in all players’ inventories courtesy of The Bank of Nook: ‘We are writing to inform you that we have reduced the interest rate offered to all savings accounts. We appreciate your business’. The letter came complete with a gift… a rug shaped like a bag of bells. Damn right I threw that away, you ain’t slick Nintendo!

Like the finest trolls, Nintendo has neglected to tell gamers why they slashed rates in the first place, and how much by. Thankfully, several savvy players have run experiments and the general estimate is that the current rate is down from 0.5% to 0.05%, with payouts capped at 9,999 bells following the update. 

Kotaku’s Ethan Gach shifted the game’s real-time clock forward to May 2021 before and after the update to compare his interest yield from around 1.1 mill in savings. The pre-update grift yielded a hefty 63,571 bells, while the same exploit after the update earned a meagre 6,579 bells.  

A number of redditors are convinced Nintendo has gone full The Dark Knight’s Joker in lockdown, but truthfully there is probably a good reason for the new update. Anyone who picked up Animal Crossing and invested a few hundred hours in it will know the world was previously rife with opportunity for hijinks. Players were amassing huge fortunes through farming tarantula islands and playing the Stalk Market for highly lucrative turnips. And the time travel feature allowed them to rake in huge numbers in interest.

Now it’s pretty much a level playing field, and everyone has to watch their savings grow at a snail’s pace just like in real life. See? Not much in the way of escapism.