If you’re in the business of “villager trafficking,” you might want to stop soon!

Animal Crossing: New Horizons became the stay-at-home beacon of light for many people throughout the coroanvirus pandemic. Fishing, catching bugs, planting flowers, decorating the island, and inviting friends over–digitally–to share the fun have been a great way for many of us to pass the time while stuck at home.

The key facet of the game is paying off your exorbitant home loans with the in-game currency known as Bells, and this can be done with money earned from selling items like fish, bugs, fossils, and fruit at the Nook’s Cranny shop. But the thing people seem to love most about the game is the huge degree of freedom you have in decorating and organizing your island.

Part of that is the villagers you can invite to live on your island. The villagers are all animals and come with lots of styles and personalities, so for a lot of people, collecting the right villagers is part of maintaining their island’s aesthetic. On top of that, several villagers have become extremely popular and desirable because of their cute looks and personalities.

▼ Raymond, a smart-looking gray cat with two different colored eyes, is exceptionally popular.

But where things might go a little too far is when people start buying and selling desirable villagers, Nintendo says. In fact, many players are using “real money trading” (known as RMT among Japanese players) to get whatever items and Villagers they desire. In Japan, Twitter accounts and websites dedicated to the sale of Animal Crossing’s in-game items are plentiful, and in the U.S., a quick browse of eBay shows numerous listings of rare items, villagers, and bells.

A lot of busy Japanese players, who might not have much time to spend on the game, apparently tend to spend their real, hard-earned money on Nook Miles Tickets, which let you travel to uninhabited islands where you can harvest more resources, and which have the potential to catch fish and bugs that fetch a higher selling price. Nook Miles Tickets are a popular listing on eBay, with one listing selling 1,600 tickets for $19.99.

Some sellers even allow visitors access to their “loot island”, where a buyer can visit repeatedly over a certain time frame and take whatever items they want. The standard price appears to be $49.99 for one hour.

Popular villagers in particular can sell for a high price in Japan. Dom, the pink sheep with sad-looking eyes, can sell for 5,000 yen ($46.69), and the universally popular Raymond sells for as much as 8,000 yen.

▼ Just $10 in the U.S., though, it seems.

Clearly there are some people making a good business out of the sale of digital items and characters. But that begs the question about whether making a profit off of a video game like that is legal. After all, according to the Nintendo Network’s Japanese Terms of Use:

“Users may not use Nintendo Network or Nintendo Network Contents to conduct real money trading (the buying and selling of points or other digital currency for real world currency).”

This agreement specifies “points” and “digital currency”, indicating that it may apply only to the game’s currency or the “Nook Miles Points” awarded for accomplishing achievements. J-Cast News contacted Nintendo to find out if buying and selling characters and items also goes against the Terms of Use, and their response was: “We confirm that it is in violation of our Terms of Use.”

It seems they will be dealing with companies and individuals selling in-game items and characters on a case-by-case basis, so if you’re someone who has been participating in this digital black market, you might want to be careful. You don’t want to mess with Nintendo.

Source: J-Cast News via Livedoor News via Hachima Kiko
Top image: YouTube/Nintendo
Insert images: eBay/kaeun29eBay/jbsdigitalemporium, eBay/jpzin831-7, YouTube/Nintendo

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