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Animal Crossing turnip traders have something new to fear: sea robbery

No wetsuits!

Animal Crossing avatar wearing yellow diving suit Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo via Polygon
Nicole Carpenter is a senior reporter specializing in investigative features about labor issues in the game industry, as well as the business and culture of games.

The first time I invited strangers to my Animal Crossing: New Horizons island, I created a large, fenced-off area to keep mischievous strangers out of my flower fields and fruit orchards. I’d heard the horror stories, of trampled flowers and ransacked islands, so I painstakingly created a pathway from the airport to Nook’s Cranny — a pain in the ass considering how far my Nook’s Cranny is from the airport.

I’d been burned before in the Stalk Market, but mostly by my own mistakes. The damage an internet stranger could do to my digital island is minimal, all things considered, but I’d spent dozens of hours on this place. It wasn’t a big enough risk to not post my Dodo code publicly on Twitter — I made a lot Bells that day — but it was a risk, indeed.

Since then, I’ve taken my Bells out of the Stalk Market. For that, I am grateful, because apparently there’s a new threat for diehard turnip traders: sea robbery, enabled by the new summer update that added swimming. Theoretically, it works like this: A player flies into an island to sell their turnips. Some turnip traders charge entry to their islands — players that want to avoid this can jump off the pier and swim around to another island entrance, sell their turnips without paying up, then quietly leave the island. Mischief makers might just trample flowers and shake trees in areas the island owner didn’t intend strangers to go — perhaps sneakily picking up another player’s tip or other dropped items on the ground. Any item dropped on the ground is at risk.

Essentially, it renders existing fencing on the island useless, unless it’s literally fencing off the entire perimeter of the beach. A Reddit user posted about the risk on the Animal Crossing subreddit over the weekend. I haven’t seen a ton of people on social media who’ve actually been scammed this way, but there are a few users in the Reddit thread that said sea robbery happened to them — a couple of people noted that it’s less about the risk of damage to their island, but more about the betrayal of trust.

It can be a neat little experience to invite strangers over to your island, but it, apparently, can also bring out the worst in people. The risk of sea robbery is real.

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