Taking Bell Investments To the Next Level: Brainstorming Financial Products in Animal Crossing

First, there was a stalk market — a simple system that allows Animal Crossing players to benefit from buying and selling turnips. To put simply, it’s a form of investment;

Then, there is Warren Turnip, a Discord bot I wrote that helps me and my friends keep track of our selling prices every day so we can benefit the most from each other.

My Warren Turnip in action.

At perhaps the same time (even earlier), came Turnip.exchange, a website that lets everyone on the internet post about their islands and set queues for investors to wait in. It is a beautiful system!

Finally, someone was smart enough to make priority queues for those who joined their Discord servers…

It’s totally understandable — getting in an island is already a time-consuming task. If I can spend less time waiting in line, why wouldn’t I?

A few weeks after I sort of put down Warren Turnip, I started thinking about the possibilities of Turnip trading. Since it is already a simplified simulation of real-world stocktrading, my question is: can I further this design and come up with different “financial products” that cater to the current needs?

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you: Collective Investment and Priority Bidding

Collective Investment (Investment Fund)

In real world, a typical investment concerns two entities: the client and the target. In most cases, profit is entirely up to the client’s wisdom, experience and luck.

Someone came up with an idea: how about we give all of our money to someone we trust, and let them decide what targets to invest? So people started pouring money to this “trusted someone”, therefore the word “collective”; on the other hand, this agent must also work hard on making everyone profit. In many cases, they are not restricted to one type of investment; in fact, the money they received are mostly used to invest multiple types of targets at once. As the saying goes “don’t put all your eggs in one basket”, this is a way to split and lower investment risks.

In the end, when everyone wins, the agent receives a fee based on the profit.

Back in Animal Crossing, Stalk Markets actually have patterns that become predictable once players have enough data on the turnip prices of the week. If a player has predicted a seemingly wealthy future, it’s not a bad idea to start a collective investment. Here’s how it works:

  1. The player ‘Andy’ starts a collective investment and calls for investors.
  2. Investors hand over their turnips. Andy takes record of how many turnips each player has invested.
  3. Since Andy is the one who started the investment, he will also be the “agent” for this trade.
  4. When the time comes, Andy sells all the turnips he has received. Then, he transfers the profit back to his investors, in proportion to how many turnips they’ve invested.

Benefit

For Andy: Andy does not have to spend time buying any Turnips on Sunday. I mean, Daisy Mae only comes between 9~12, but frankly people tend to wake up late on weekends. Should he decide to invest in turnips himself, he can earn “extra cash” through the fees he will collect in the end.

For Investors: Animal Crossing should be a low-maintenance game. For people who do not have a lot of time on their hands or who are just not beside their Switches at all times, this is a good way to earn money without the need to spend too much time on it.

Risks

For Andy: Andy must be capable of recruiting investors to buy his service. He also needs to time his advertisements well — letting the word out early means more potential investors, but it also means a less-reliable forecast; conversely, a late release means lower risk, but investors may have already turn their heads to other people.

Additionally, the space of Andy’s island is fixed, meaning that he can only accept so many turnips for one run. This sets a ceiling for how much Andy can invest. (C’mon, Nintendo, why would you not let us put turnips in our storage?)

For Investors: Like all other forms of investments, always prepare for unexpected loss. Also, although a run may end up being profitable, investors must also calculate in the fee as a cost.

Note: ‘unexpected loss’ is the reason why we have ‘insurance’. Hmm. I sense a new opportunity here…

Priority Bidding

Your island is buying turnips at 640 Bells. You also feel good today and wanted to open up your island to the public for people to come and make some fortune; at the same time, you also wanted to make some extra cash alongside.

On another day, you have a lot of turnips to sell, but unfortunately your store isn’t giving you triple digits. So you had to spend an enormous amount of time waiting on Turnip.exchange to get in line. As you finally became the front-10 of your line, the owner shuts their doors. Welp. Gotta do it all over again.

Some clever players have thought about priority queues, like the one mentioned above; what I’m proposing here is making that service a biddable item, and it’s surprisingly simple.

  1. Andy (the owner of the island) predicts that on Thursday his turnip prices will spike. He lets the word out, inviting people to queue in-line prior to the selling day.
  2. During this time, buyers may pay Andy for priority. In the end, whoever pays more gets to enter the island sooner.

From my observation, 99k is the ceiling for how much visitors would tip the owner. This means that after 99k, people will start to hesitate on whether this optional service is worth “investing” — remember, the priority list also changes from time to time until selling day. Paying 90k upfront doesn’t necessarily secure you the front-most position.

To the owner, the size of this extra profit is one of the key factors of whether this event is reasonable or not. If there are not enough people using this service, there’s less point setting it up at the first place.

We also have the “fast-pass problem”, where too many people are queued in the priority queue, causing extended wait-times for both the priority queue and normal queue. These are all problems that the owner has to deal with if they decide to split up queues.

Fast pass becomes “slow-pass” if the number of buyers aren’t regulated.

Anyways, these are the two “financial products” I designed for a more intensive Animal Crossing experience. I was heavily inspired by how real stock markets work, and I feel like this game has a potential of turning into the Real Wall Street Experience(TM).

Open for discussion! Till next time.

Published by

Brian Teng

Game Designer | San Jose, CA

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