Nintendo Cryptically Points Out That Selling 'Animal Crossing' Assets For Real Money Violates ToS

from the sooooo? dept

Back in May, we wrote about something of an economy springing up around Nintendo's hit game Animal Crossing. With so many folks enduring the hardships of layoffs, or unable to find work, it turns out there are people making very real world money selling in-game assets and collecting payment outside of Nintendo's platform, which doesn't have a method for these types of transactions. This sort of thing fascinates me on many levels, perhaps mostly in how nearly perfectly this highlights the reality of income disparity in America. Some folks have to farm digital bells to make money by selling them to people with enough money to buy them.

But we also mentioned in that post that Nintendo is notoriously protective over how its games are played and used. On top of that, the only real way to be effective in this economy is to screw around with the clock and timer settings on the console itself to speed up the harvesting process. That, too, is the sort of thing that normally gets Nintendo's fur up. So, it's perhaps not surprising that Nintendo has pointed out recently that all of this violates its Terms of Service, though the company has remained cryptic as to exactly what it plans to do about it.

Nintendo has strictly defined rules about monetization. As clearly stated on the network services guidelines, Nintendo writes, “You may monetize your videos and channels using the monetization methods separately specified by Nintendo. Other forms of monetization of our intellectual property for commercial purposes are not permitted.”

J-Cast reached out Nintendo regarding the real-money trade of Animal Crossing: New Horizons characters. “We are aware of the violation of our terms of use,” Nintendo replied. Nintendo added that it is currently considering what steps should be taken regarding the sale of New Horizons characters.

One presumes the same would be true for in-game assets like Animal Crossing's bells. As stated, Nintendo has a reputation for this... but should the company drop the hammer on this sort of behavior? I've put some thought into this and I can't really come up with a systemic major problem that is or could be caused by this emergent economy springing up around a game like this. How much does this break the game's community, given that there is clearly a demand from players for buying these assets? And how much interest in the game is built on players knowing they have an outlet for progression through these purchases?

Interesting as those questions may be, Nintendo doesn't typically come off as though it engages in this type of self-interrogation. Instead, the company sees something happening outside of its control, has a visceral reaction to that something, and reacts with a heavy hand. Note that the quote from the Nintendo rep above says Nintendo is deciding what to do about all of this, not whether it should do anything at all. Which is too bad.

Filed Under: animal crossing, economies, in game sales, terms of service, virtual goods
Companies: nintendo


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  1. icon
    ysth (profile), 17 Jun 2020 @ 7:44pm

    confused

    How are in game assets intellectual property? Doesn't seem to fit.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Jun 2020 @ 7:45pm

    Another fucking Tim, how many Tims are there here, are you the "burn it down" Tim or some other asshole "Tim" who also poses as Dark Helmet. So, Tim, what do you think about the Book Burnings. You like that, right? Burn it all, you said. You mean books, too, right? Anything else? Wendy's? Police Headquarters? Are you happy with that? Burn it all, right, you advocate for that, you're that Tim, right? You should be arrested and housed with the rioters that will fuck you in your ass until you decide to join a normal society that does NOT ADVOCATE BURNING DOWN AMERICA!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Jun 2020 @ 8:39pm

    Re:

    No, i think the other Tim (so easy to tell apart, but then we are talking about you, here) advocates burning down the motherfuckers who have been burning down the US this entire time. Fuck your "America".

    And how about you stick to the topic, just once, ever.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Jun 2020 @ 8:46pm

    Re: Re:

    Right. MY America. The America expressed in the Constitution. The America of historical greatness. I'm guessing you're from Black Lives Matter.

    Black Lives Matter means to destroy America and destroy American Police and establish a new society based on violence, the history of violence, the application of violence, and the destruction of America. Chaz/Chap is their banner flag. Nike is in, Wells Fargo is in, the globalist corporations are FINE with destroying America. Art is being destroyed, books are being burned, statues are being dumped and destroyed by vandals and rioters. Everyone seems fine with that.

    That's YOUR America. Go fuck yourself.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Jun 2020 @ 10:22pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    How's that Richard Liebowitz fund coming along, Hamilton?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    icon
    Andrew Smith (profile), 18 Jun 2020 @ 12:16am

    Windows 10 Taskbar is Not Hiding in Full Screen {Try These Simpl

    Is your Windows 10 taskbar not hiding automatically? Resolve the taskbar not hiding issue with the tips and tricks described in this article.

    Read this: https://www.freedriverupdater.com/windows-10-taskbar-is-not-hiding-solved/

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    Ben (profile), 18 Jun 2020 @ 2:05am

    Fraud?

    I can see how Nintendo could make this about protecting their players by taking the 'fraud prevention' route. Afterall, if the transactions are taking place outside of Nintendo's control, and real money is being handed over for digital assets, there are obvious opportunities for the seller to 'have a glitch' that means they can't/won't hand over the goods for which they've received the money.
    But thinking of protecting their cash-cows is not the Nintendo Way(tm).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Jun 2020 @ 2:09am

    Deadly Force in Georgia

    What does Georgia Law say about deadly force?
    OCGA 17-4-20 (b):
    Sheriffs and peace officers may use deadly force:
    1.) to apprehend a suspected felon only when the officer reasonably believes that the suspect possesses a deadly weapon. (He did)
    2.) to apprehend a suspected felon who possesses any object, device, or instrument which, when used offensively against a person, is likely to or actually does result in serious bodily injury. (He did)
    3.) to apprehend a suspected felon when the officer reasonably believes that the suspect poses an immediate threat of physical violence to the officer or others (He did)
    4.) to apprehend a suspected felon when there is probable cause to believe that the suspect has committed a crime involving the infliction or threatened infliction of serious physical harm (He did)

    The officer only needed one of those requirements, but he had all 4........

    Now the reason taser’s are considered “less-lethal” is because when used appropriately, you are “less likely” to kill someone vs using a gun. But Brooks hasn’t been through the training to know how to avoid certain vulnerable parts of the body, and he doesn’t understand how neuromuscular incapacitation (NMI) works, which makes it MORE likely for him to cause great bodily injury or death than if an officer used it.

    And just to support the fact that tasers can and do kill, there is an East Point Officer currently sitting in prison for improperly using a taser and killing a man a few years ago.
    (Eberhart v Georgia)

    “He could’ve shot him in the leg!”

    Right off the top, it is unconstitutional to do so. It is considered cruel and unusual punishment to employ a gun in that manner. Either an officer felt deadly force was necessary, or he should use a lesser response.

    We could just leave it at that, but that's too much of a cop out, so let's discuss WHY it has been deemed unconstitutional. For one thing, that's an extremely difficult shot to make. The target is quite narrow, and in continuous motion as the suspect runs away/charges the officer. Under the best of conditions trying to hit the leg is challenging...to be generous about it. But in a life or death encounter, the officer's fine motor skills will be eroded by the stress of the encounter making the shot, turning a leg shot into a very low probability feat.

    Assuming a round does hit the leg, then what? The only way a shot to the leg would immediately stop a threat is by shattering one of the bones, and stopping the threat is the ultimate goal. While it is very difficult to find a shot to the leg that will immediately stop a threat, it is actually comparatively easy to find shots to the leg which eventually prove fatal. Human legs have very large blood vessels which are essentially unprotected (femoral artery)

    Now remember, we’ve had days to sit back, watch videos, discuss, and analyze this entire thing. The officers had less than a minute from the time the fight started, and less than 5 seconds to interpret EVERYTHING you just read while running, getting shot at with a taser, and returning fire.

    -Greg James
    Founder/Executive Director
    Georgia Law Enforcement Organization"

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Your Friendly NIKE Salesman (also BLM part time), 18 Jun 2020 @ 2:11am

    re: Fraud

    Really?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Jun 2020 @ 2:34am

    Re:

    The name on the article is a link to a profile, which would answer all your questions. So I suggest you learn how to use provided links rather than showing off your ignorance..

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. icon
    Philosopherott (profile), 18 Jun 2020 @ 5:56am

    Tax Implications

    While I am not an expert in the taxation of virtual currencies, I believe under IRS Notice 2014-21 this could be considered a “convertible” virtual currency as it has an equivalent value in real currency. In general, the sale or exchange of convertible virtual currency, or the use of convertible virtual currency to pay for goods or services in a real-world economy transaction, has tax consequences that may result in a tax liability. So selling the bells or whatever (sorry I don't play AC) could have real world tax implications.

    The notice was targeted at Bitcoin when written but you never know with the IRS.

    This may just all be posturing to ensure Nintendo does not get lumped in a broker of virtual currencies.

    Oh wait but it's Nintendo and there benefit of doubt has expired for me...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. icon
    crade (profile), 18 Jun 2020 @ 6:08am

    The systemic issue is when some country somewhere sets up slave labour camps for farming these digital assets. I don't know if this particular game would have this issue, but certainly it exists for other games

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. icon
    Philosopherott (profile), 18 Jun 2020 @ 6:17am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I remember in history class rioting be part of American history al la the Boston Tea Party. I also remember from American History that when authorities shoot into crowds we called it a massacre and it kicked off a revolution, e.g. the Boston Massacre.

    I remember from American history the part of the Declaration of Independence where it says "That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it..." The ends being powers granted by the people; a group of people where all are considered equal and are supposed to have inalienable rights to life, liberty, and happiness. Something that is in question right now for a large part of the population.

    See, it isn't about YOUR America it is about OUR (including you) America. Until you recognize that, your are not really an American IMO.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Crafty Coyote, 18 Jun 2020 @ 7:10am

    Re:

    The only country I could think of where wide-scale currency and gold farming takes place is South Korea, where WoW gold has become the second form of money, and harvesting gold is a legit occupation. Anybody who does harvest gold does so of their own volition.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Paul B, 18 Jun 2020 @ 7:17am

    Re:

    Almost every game in the MMO or near MMO league are dealing with RMT to the point where bots have gone from anoying but uncommon to outright overwhelming and abusing systems designed to fight them.

    Nintendo really does not want to have the WOW problem where farmers demand payment just before the last boss or kick the non paying out of the group. Other more destructive things are also coming down the line for those games and chasing away real players.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. icon
    Samuel Abram (profile), 18 Jun 2020 @ 8:01am

    Instead, [Nintendo] sees something happening outside of its control, has a visceral reaction to that something, and reacts with a heavy hand.

    Here's the thing: It only counts if it's within the current commercial life cycle of Nintendo's products. Otherwise they don't care. Take the Chiptunes scene, in which I partake: programs are made for Nintendo's old consoles, such as the NES and Game Boy. In fact, many NESes and Game Boys are modified (such as to reduce hum or add a backlight). What does Nintendo do about this? Nothing. In fact, I asked some Nintendo representatives in the past ten years what they think about this, and their answer was "No Comment". Take that as what you will

    Also, there's a scene of homebrew and indie developers making unlicensed games for the NES. What does Nintendo do about it? Nothing, since those games are niche and don't directly threaten their bottom line. In fact, one of those indie NES games came out for the Switch legitimately! So how Nintendo looks at the NES and who made games for it now is different than how it looked at the NES and who made games for it during its commercial life cycle.

    So why does Nintendo care about people selling bells for cash? Here's my hypothesis: Nintendo senses a monetization opportunity where they can sell in-game bells for real-world currency, and people doing it outside of their control is a threat to their bottom line.

    Just my 2¥.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. icon
    nasch (profile), 18 Jun 2020 @ 8:54am

    Re:

    Here's the thing: It only counts if it's within the current commercial life cycle of Nintendo's products. Otherwise they don't care.

    Are you sure?

    Mario 64:
    https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20200506/10571844449/fans-port-mario-64-to-pc-make-it-way-bett er-so-course-nintendo-is-trying-to-nuke-project.shtml

    Donkey Kong:
    https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20191001/09250843101/amazing-all-cool-stuff-we-could-have-if -nintendo-didnt-insist-nintendo-ing.shtml

    Old game music on YouTube:
    https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20190815/10233242790/nintendo-hates-you-company-dmcas-ove r-100-videos-celebrating-nintendo-game-music.shtml

    A fan created game based on Super Mario Bros:
    https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2019/06/cease-and-desist-transforms-mario-royale-into-dmca-roya le/

    Videos of fan-created Super Mario World levels:
    https://www.digitaltrends.com/gaming/nintendo-targets-speedrunners-with-youtube-copyright-cl aims/

    That's right, a video that someone posted of a level they created themselves for a 15-year-old Nintendo game. They found that worthy of takedown. A sane company would be delighted just to have such dedicated fans.

    There are a bunch more of these stories, too.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. icon
    Samuel Abram (profile), 18 Jun 2020 @ 9:31am

    Re: Re:

    I'm sorry, I should've clarified,

    Here's the thing: It only counts if it involves hardware within the current commercial life cycle of Nintendo's products. Otherwise they don't care.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. icon
    Zgaidin (profile), 18 Jun 2020 @ 9:38am

    Re: Re:

    That's the issue: chasing legitimate players away. In any game like this unsanctioned RMT devalues the time and effort of players who do not choose to violate the ToS. It erodes their interest in the game because the emotional and neurochemical rewards they receive for making bells, finding items, or whatever they do are diminished by the knowledge that other people got those same things without all the effort by cheating. It can be reclaimed if they see the admins punishing the cheaters, but otherwise they become disillusioned with the game, are less likely to purchase expansions or future entries in the series and less likely to promote the game to friends and family. It hurts the players and Nintendo to ignore this sort of behavior.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. icon
    nasch (profile), 18 Jun 2020 @ 10:41am

    Re: Re: Re:

    How do any of those old games "involve hardware within the current commercial life cycle of Nintendo's products"? Is it because they released all those old titles like Donkey Kong and Super Mario Bros on the Switch (I don't know if they did)? If so, then the statement becomes so broad as to equate to "if it involves a game that was ever popular enough for Nintendo to release a port on new hardware, including games from 20+ years ago". Still not a good look for Nintendo IMO.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. icon
    nasch (profile), 18 Jun 2020 @ 10:44am

    Re: Re: Re:

    If the main reason to play the game is to feel proud that you were willing to grind it out to get those bells (diamonds, +1 scimitars, Trinity Ghoul, etc.), then it isn't a very good game. The game should be fun to play on its own, in addition to the delight of being rewarded with cool items. If someone else spending cash on the cool items eliminates my joy in playing the game, then it wasn't worth playing to begin with. My 2 cents anyway.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. icon
    Samuel Abram (profile), 18 Jun 2020 @ 10:58am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Oh goddammit, I fucked up a second time. here's the final final clarification:

    Here's the thing: It only counts if it's within the current commercial life cycle of Nintendo's products or software from any time during Nintendo's history. Otherwise they don't care.

    There! And that's the final word!

    I don't know what's with me today. I apologize for making all these mistakes. :-(

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), 18 Jun 2020 @ 11:02am

    Re:

    Still got the wrong Tim, dumb dumb.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24. icon
    nasch (profile), 18 Jun 2020 @ 11:25am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    So the only thing they don't care about is people modding obsolete hardware. Got it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Jun 2020 @ 12:10pm

    Real-money trade is rife with scams and credit card fraud, and no game company wants their product associated with that. If developers want players to trade items, they will provide safe means to do so within the game.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26. icon
    Samuel Abram (profile), 18 Jun 2020 @ 12:11pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    So the only thing they don't care about is people modding obsolete hardware. Got it.

    exactly. which actually makes them a small step better than Apple.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Jun 2020 @ 2:42pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Well, it's fine when rich people get others to riot so they can collect power and get their own way.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Jun 2020 @ 2:46pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I think that is more about the what sort of person is playing than the game itself. Plenty of games in the wider game-o-sphere cater to that sort of player, though, but these aren't the AAA and platform games so much.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29. icon
    baby names (profile), 20 Jun 2020 @ 11:08pm

    Re: re: Fraud

    Would you be able to accept that Sophia is the top infant young lady name for the ninth sequential year? That is a remarkable streak! Jackson additionally stays as the main kid child name for a long time in succession. We realized that these names would have been well known and stick around so we'll perceive to what extent they keep on remaining at the top. https://namecombinerpro.com

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Jun 2020 @ 12:00am

    Re: Re: Re:

    That's the issue: chasing legitimate players away

    How in the **** is it illegitimate!? It's paying for a resource. A very common occurrence in real life. There's no hacking, nor glitching in anyway. It's using only the official mechanisms builtin to the game itself. Next you're going to tell me that going to Nook's Cranny and buying an axe is illegitimate because I should have to run around searching for a bunch of tree branches and some stone and make it by hand. Or that getting a non-native kind of fruit from a friend / island tour is illegitimate because it sells for more bells than the island default and I should have to toil away for weeks / months to do anything.

    This whole debate about "legitimacy" needs to stop. At this point even using the options the game intentionally gives players is being hailed as cheating and straying from the one true method of play. It's a ****ing game, and mostly a single player one at that. If you can't handle playing your game because someone else plays their game in a different way than you, you need to put your game down, go put on a diaper, and mature some more. That or seek immediate psychological help.

    As for Nintendo: Buzz off. If I want to go to the bathroom while your commercials run, that's my choice not yours.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Close

Add A Reply

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Essential Reading
Techdirt Insider Chat
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it
Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.