Why Is It So Hard to Buy Art in Animal Crossing: New Horizons?Photo via Nintendo Games Features Animal Crossing
When Animal Crossing: New Horizons received an update in April that added an additional art wing onto players’ museums, it seemed like just another activity that would enrich our daily jaunts around the island. As we already were with fish, bugs and fossils, we’d soon be able to hunt for art and satisfyingly fill in our beautiful new art gallery.
The only problem: Almost 6 weeks after that initial update, our gallery still looks almost completely bare, with only a few lonely looking paintings to its name. Despite playing the game every single day, we’ve managed to acquire almost no art, and it’s not Jolly Redd’s inherent sketchiness that is to blame—it’s the fact that we so rarely have an opportunity to buy art. Turns out that when the art vendor almost never visits your island, your museum remains a sad shell, and you don’t have to look far online to find other players who are frustrated about the same thing.
It begs the question: Why add a new, huge, empty gallery and then make the only means of acquiring items for it the arrival of a vendor who can go missing for weeks at a time? Why put such a degree of randomness into Redd’s appearances when he offers a far more integral service than say, Sahara, or CJ, or Flick? Whereas those vendors might help you acquire a carpet, or pay a bit extra for your fish or bugs, they’re not the sole way of furnishing an entire wing of your museum. Would it be so terrible for Redd’s visits to be at least guaranteed on a weekly basis? What would it hurt?
Making matters worse is the fact that the randomness of Redd’s wares means that it’s actually possible for him to visit your island with only fakes, and no real art to sell. I know this, because it happened on my own island—we waited more than two weeks for a Redd appearance, and then when he showed up he was selling ONLY fake art. How could you experience that and NOT be jaded with the art system? Moreover, why wouldn’t you design the shop to always have at least one piece of real art, when the alternative is bound to be deeply unsatisfying to players? There’s no player out there who would choose to wait weeks at a time for nothing.
The art system runs in particularly stark contrast to the workings of the other three wings of the museum, which are all either dependably regular, or a direct function of the player’s level of effort. For fish and bugs, it’s simply a matter of how often you go hunting. For fossils, a set number spawn on your island every day, and you can find more via Nook Miles mystery island tours. To at least a degree, your ability to procure items for these three wings are all in the hands of the player. Trying to get art, by comparison, is like praying to a higher power to anoint your island and simply hoping it will eventually work. We prefer to not play via “time traveling” to different days, but the inaccessibility of Redd seems to incentivize the player to do exactly that, which is against the spirit of the game.
I get it, by the way: The nature of Redd’s shop is meant to be that there’s an obvious risk to buying his wares. It’s why you have to research each piece of art to see if it’s real, or a forgery. And you can argue that the rarity of Redd’s visits is meant to work against the drive that many players have to obsessively check items off their ACNH to-do lists, but that doesn’t make it any less unsatisfying when you visit his boat and he doesn’t have at least one real piece of art for you. Nor does the suggestion that you should be constantly asking your friends if Redd is visiting their island, and can you swing by to peruse his wares?
These certainly don’t seem like issues that would be difficult to address or correct. Simply guaranteeing more frequent visits from Redd to players’ islands would go a long way. Hell, if he showed up more often, it would even help take the sting out of the experience if he didn’t have a single piece of real art with him.
Ultimately, though, I just want to walk into my art gallery and see art, rather than a bunch of empty display cases. That really seems like a sentiment most New Horizons players would share.