How long can you play Animal Crossing?

4 minute read

Quick answer: You can play Animal Crossing indefinitely. While some may get their fill early on, the series offers an endless amount of ways to hang out, collect, and express yourself. Hitting 100 hours or more is easy if the game sinks its teeth into you.

Playtime is sometimes incorrectly associated with the value offered by video games, but it still remains one of the key markers of worth in the minds of gamers.

  • Developer: Nintendo
  • Genre: Life simulation
  • Platform: Switch exclusive
  • Release date: March 20, 2020

These days, the line between the beginning and end of a journey has become blurred due to the overabundance of checklist driven gameplay and endless updates. Even still, becoming aware of the systems in place makes it easy enough to know how long you’ll be playing.

In the case of Animal Crossing, a series which has consistently diverted from tradition, the potential for hours played is near endless. In a similar vein as Minecraft, The Sims, or even Dreams, there are tools in place to make your own fun.

Undefined in all the right ways

If I had to give an estimate in terms of raw hours, I’d say that the latest entry, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, is capable of fulfilling you for a minimum of 100 hours (and quite easily).

There is technically a start and an end point according to in game events, but it’s also easy to lose the plot and endlessly tinker or relax for dozens of hours at a time.

While AC:NH doesn’t have a story mode or rigid gameplay structure, there are plenty of goals to chase if that’s the sort of experience you’re after.

It’s exactly what I’ve been doing for the past 20 some odd hours and I know all too well how easy it is to fall into the abyss of aimlessness. But it’s the loose definition of the games systems that ultimately provides such a substantial amount of replay value after the credits roll (some might say that this is when the game actually begins).

The slow burn and overly tutorialized nature of New Horizons can make the experience frustrating at times, but it also makes the player more than ready to tackle every aspect of the game.

Despite the fact that Animal Crossing eventually “ends” when the credits roll, you’ll never feel like you’re forced to do anything. The pointlessness of the franchise makes it what it is.

How long can you play a day?

I’m 70 hours in and there’s no end in sight.

There is structure in Animal Crossing and it offers goals to chase, but it’s unlike other games in the sense that it’s self limiting. You can fish or grind materials the entire day, but you’re always going to hit a wall of diminishing returns. Of course, the game is a digital stress ball and sometimes doing absolutely nothing is the best way to play.

In terms of concrete “things to do”, New Horizons allows you to:

  • Catch fish and bugs
  • Dig up fossils
  • Build out your art, wildlife, and fossil collection in the island’s museum
  • Raise your Happy Home Academy rating
  • Raise your island’s rating (and eventually have K.K. Slider visit)
  • Grow your relationship with villagers
  • Seek out new villagers
  • Collect every fruit
  • Collect DIY recipes

This is hardly a comprehensive list of what to do in Animal Crossing, but at the end of the day it’s flush with traditional video game elements. And that’s the beauty of the series (especially the latest release) – it offers players the flexibility of choosing how they want to play. The best way to play is going to be different than someone else.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons makes it easier to play longer with the introduction of the Nook Miles rewards system. Building off the MEOW Coupons system in New Leaf, players are introduced to a revolving door of daily to do’s.

I, like many others, binged the hell out of the game when I first bought it, but I soon found that the game is best enjoyed in small bursts everyday (as were Wild World and New Leaf).

For most people, that means a few hours until some semblance of boredom kicks in. Some days you’ll find yourself particularly enthralled with crafting, decorating, grinding, and personalization. These are the days when you’ll chew through a whole day in your island retreat. But it probably won’t be the norm and most days you’ll probably only play a few hours tops.

How to view your playtime

If you already have a copy of Animal Crossing: New Horizons, you’ll be happy to know that viewing your hours played is incredibly simple.

The steps to do so are as follows:

  • Go to the Switch home screen (hit the Home button)
  • Navigate to your profile by clicking on your user picture
  • Select Animal Crossing: New Horizons in your list of games
  • Boom! You’ll now be able to see hours played

If you can’t see hours played then you most likely haven’t played enough days. In order to see your gameplay stats you need to have played any particular game for more than 10 days.

Nintendo’s Parental Controls app is a great way to get a more detailed look at your gaming habits on the Switch. The console’s built in activity tracker leaves a lot to be desired.

The Switch will track how many hours you have played before then but it won’t display the hours after crossing that threshold. Alternatively, you can manually track your hours played with the help of the Switch Parental Controls app.

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