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Animal Crossing fans upset that Nintendo is taking down hacked dream islands

It’s harmless, players say

A dream in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo

Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ latest update allows players to upload their islands to the internet, which other fans can then visit in a dream-like state. But according to recent player reports, Nintendo is being aggressive about taking down islands which use any sort of cheating or hacking, something that is upsetting players who use the powers largely for decorative purposes.

One popular hack involves tweaking trees so that instead of bearing fruit, they display items such as star fragments, though other types of tree hacks are possible. Fans have been known to display anything from fossils to heart crystals on their hacked trees. Some players even sell trees to other New Horizons devotees. But hacks also make it possible to do nearly anything in-game, such as generating villagers to live on your island.

When players use the newly released Dream Suite, the latest version of their island gets uploaded to the internet — and that includes any star trees or other hacks. Going along with this, Nintendo gives users the ability to report islands, and one of the options includes flagging any cheating or hacking. And, it seems, fans are making use of it. One mid-sized YouTuber, for example, made an entire video about reporting hacked islands, though it seems likely others are taking up the mantle, too.

As a result, New Horizons players are sharing emails they’ve received from Nintendo informing them that the company is taking down their content because it violates its user agreement, or alleging that their islands got reported over star trees. Some are even taking down their previously uploaded islands featuring star fragment trees, even if they haven’t been reported, just as a precautionary measure. Reached for comment, Nintendo did not respond in time for press.

One player named KB tells Polygon that she uploaded her island to help a few people catalogue items for future purchases. She got a notice from Nintendo within 24 hours, she says, and she suspects it was over star fragment trees.

“For crying out loud, how do different trees affect anyone else’s gameplay in a non-competitive game?!” she wrote in a Twitter message. “It’s so disappointing and frustrating to not be able to share my island I spent so much time working on.”

Players speaking out about this online seem to agree with her assessment — while it’s true that things like star fragment trees are definitely hacks, fans don’t see the harm in something that only exists for decorative purposes and cannot infringe on anyone else’s game, especially within an Animal Crossing dream, where nothing is permanent. As a result, most of the responses to Nintendo’s recent tweet about Animal Crossing Dream Islands are folks arguing about islands that have been reported over star fragment trees or other similar hacks.

“There is 0 competition so cheating does not exist,” one Twitter user said, in response to people reporting islands. “Leave these people alone and let us enjoy the game.”

Part of the issue is that, when a YouTuber uploads a video telling their audience to report islands, the recipient — who may not even be a particularly popular island destination — gets bombarded by those subscribers, which can lend the whole proceeding an air of bullying and harassment.

“I swear this new report feature is going to make the Karens of Animal Crossing go wild,” another Twitter user said.

Another problem, fans say, is that there no system for appealing Nintendo’s decision at the moment — notices of island takedowns include the line, “This is Nintendo’s final decision.”

Despite the reporting phenomenon, many are uploading their islands anyway, but with a plea to prospective visitors to forego reporting their islands.

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