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Friendly Traders Fight Seedy Scammers in the Animal Crossing Turnip Community

Long wait times are only the tip of the iceberg, after an explosion of Animal Crossing turnip trading.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons provides a number of ways to hustle in its Bell-based economy if you want to get rich quick and pay off Tom Nook’s endless loans. One of the best is the Stalk Market — which involves buying an absolute glut of turnips from a cute boar lady called Daisy Mae. Then you ruthlessly try to flip them for the highest possible profit.

The buying price for turnips hovers pretty consistently around 100 Bells. But the selling price, set by the two Nookling nephews, can vary from just a couple dozen to over 600. If you’re playing Animal Crossing, you’ve probably hopped over to a friend’s island to take advantage of their high prices. But the best offerings are rare; you might need to reach out to a stranger eventually.

Enter the subreddit r/acturnips. The Animal Crossing Turnip Exchange allows players with unusually high prices to invite others to come and take advantage of the Nooks’ optimistic speculation. It’s simple in theory: people post their prices, others reply and get an invitation to hop over, they sell and hopefully leave a nice tip for the island’s owner. (Bells are customary, but rare flowers or Nook Miles tickets are popular alternatives.)

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In practice, it’s much more. It’s a community founded on kindness — the simple idea of sharing one’s good fortune with others. That shows in much more than just people getting Bell-rich through others’ generosity. A recent post by a player whose wife was rushed to hospital to give birth to their premature child demonstrates the care on offer.

“I brought my Switch [to the hospital] because that’s what a Switch is for,” they wrote. “I responded to those who sent [Dodo code invitations] with the details on my situation and could not imagine the support I received. People creating a new code for me and just checking in overall made me truly feel part of this community.”

The subreddit was established in 2012 for the release of Animal Crossing: New Leaf on Nintendo 3DS. Even before New Horizons’ release, it had an entrenched, familiar set of visitors.

“The [moderation] workload had declined to being very little,” says the subreddit’s head moderator, who goes by Unicormfarts. “It’s not hard to keep the rules when most of your users know and abide by them.”

But with New Horizons’ release, the group is dealing with a huge deluge of new players wanting to cash in on those sweet ‘nip deals. Unicormfarts estimates that activity has increases “a thousandfold” just in the last week. Even with extra moderators, the experience has been “overwhelming.”

animal crossing turnip trade

The obvious issue is queues. There are far, far more people wanting a good turnip price than those who can provide them. It’s not uncommon for threads posted at peak times with prices over 500 Bells to reach 1000 or more comments. Given that any island can only accommodate eight visitors at once (and hosts usually prefer smaller groups for easier management) not only are people going to be waiting a long time, many are going to end up disappointed.

In order to keep things manageable, those offering up their high prices usually follow a regimented routine. A typical thread might state that four people will be invited at once, trapped in the airport until they all arrive. Then they can walk down a fenced route directly to the store — and nowhere else on the island. Once they’ve all sold, the host will usually end the session to kick everyone off at once. That’s because New Horizons’ loading animation for a leaving visitor can be the lengthiest part.

Despite using many of these tricks, a subreddit user who posted a price of over 600 Bells (and asked to remain anonymous for this article) described the process as “chaotic.” They say that to keep it fair they went by first come, first serve, but a large number of people messaged them privately trying to persuade them to let them queue jump.

Editor’s Note: Anecdotally, some Fanbyte editors have encountered and calculated wait times as long as five hours or more. And that wasn’t even for the last place in line. With the real-time system Animal Crossing employs, that often means waiting for a turn that will never come, since the in-game services close down at a certain time of day.

Still, the actual experience was positive. “I did get a good amount of tips [and] people were respectful of my island,” they said. “I might offer visits again if I ever do find a price as high as that. It feels good to help people.”

Unfortunately not everyone in r/acturnips is there to help. One scam that’s popped up is to ask players for an entry fee — say 200,000 Bells — at which point it turns out that the store never had a high price in the first place. So the subreddit bans entry fees. Meanwhile tips (suggested at 10 percent) cannot be mandatory. Exchanging real money is also against the rules.

On the other side of the equation are bots that post automatically in new threads to ask for invite codes. They then share with groups on outside platforms like Discord, causing even more impossibly congested queues. Workarounds for this issue have sprung up, like asking commenters to say a specific phrase or answer a question like “Who is your favourite villager?” in order to prove their humanity.

animal crossing community turnips

Another solution has been using outside tools to collect requests, such as Google Forms. A post by Unicormfarts discourages this. She worries it may be against Nintendo’s terms of service to collect Dodo code information that way. She also encourages commenting within the subreddit because of its connection to another, r/RateMyMayor, where users can prove that they’re real and respectful players.

Still, one Google Forms user managed to demonstrate the sheer scale of the base problem: supply versus demand.

“I want to temper expectations for people in the future,” they wrote. “I have been getting people into my island…for the last 6 hours, and the only people I have gotten in were all people who responded within the first 47 SECONDS.”

Their advice? “If you see a Nooklings post with over 500+ buying [price], please don’t waste your time.” And from speaking to some posters who had prices in the 200s, it does seem to be a more reliable way to turn a profit, albeit a smaller one.

“I decided to put my island open to allow those who were having a hard time getting into a 500+ island,” explained one such poster who goes by Barondeus. They describe a much more casual affair, with people coming and going as they please. “I got to chat with them and build rapport so that was nice. The tips were the cherry on top.”

Another user who asked to stay anonymous said “12-15 people” were interested in their price in the mid 200s, “but some of them didn’t even reply to my message after I wanted to invite them, so in the end only like 10 people came. But everyone followed the rules and most players even gave tips afterwards, so it was an enjoyable process overall.”

Unicormfarts thinks, and hopes, that the explosion of new players won’t last too long.

“The most frustrating part at the moment is people who are trying to “beat” the game,” she said. Once they get bored and leave, she thinks the community will be revitalized with people who just want to enjoy the experience.

“Our focus has always been on having a safe and reliable trading community, not a huge one.”

About the Author

Jay Castello

Jay Castello is a freelance writer. If they're not down a research rabbit hole you'll probably find them taking bad photographs near a riverbank or old tree.