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Animal Crossing: What Happens If You Don’t Pay Back Tom Nook

Players are indebted to Tom Nook from nearly the moment they first start Animal Crossing: New Horizons, spending much of the early game working to pay off their initial house loan (and then upgrades). In fact, this feature has been a major part of just about every game in the series; which has lead some to wonder what exactly would happen if they decide to forgo it altogether and simply refuse to pay off their debts to Tom Nook entirely.

ACNH follows the formula that has become all but standard for the franchise at this point: players build a house, pay off Tom Nook, and then are allowed to upgrade their home in New Horizons to increasingly larger sizes and levels of complexity. These upgrades, of course, cost even more Bells, and by the end of the game players will be looking at paying millions total if they're aiming to completely max out their house. While the larger size and extensive customization options may be worth it to some, many players have come to dread the thought of the hours of work it takes to earn enough to repeatedly pay off Tom Nook's many layers of home loans.

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Fortunately, the house upgrades in New Horizons aren't mandatory. Players don't have to expand their home further if they don't want to, although this option likely isn't favorable for those who are approaching Animal Crossing from a completionist mindset. Other than limiting house size and restricting player goals within New Horizons, though, are there any major consequences to be aware of when opting not to pay back Tom Nook?

The loans in New Horizons don't operate off of any particular schedule. There's no set due date for any of the payments, and Tom Nook will seemingly wait indefinitely with little urgency for players to pay him back. This means that there's plenty of time to decide whether the loans are worth it, as well as to earn enough money to make it through all of the upgrades, allowing players to experience the game at their own pace and earn more Bells utilizing whichever methods they find most enjoyable. Animal Crossing arguably isn't meant to be a stressful experience, so it doesn't push loans as an immediate problem to be resolved. They don't accumulate interest over time, either; it's worth noting, however, that players will be unable to take out new loans until they pay off any outstanding ones they may have.

Seeing as so many Animal Crossing fans use the series as a relaxing escape, leading in part to New Horizons' reputation as a "cozy game", it seems like it would be contrary to the design of the series if loans were to change in the future to become more of a pressing concern. Conversely, adding in more consequences to refusing to pay back Tom Nook could add new gameplay elements into New Horizons, something that could help the game recover from its current lack of meaningful content. Given that additional Animal Crossing: New Horizons updates seem likely in the near future, it's probable that players could find out soon if the game's approach to loans will be changing any time soon.

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