Image: Nintendo (Twitter)

Yesterday, the Nintendo of America Twitter account posted the above image of Animal Crossing’s Tom Nook and suggested the money-lending raccoon had special news. Then it turned out Nook was just hocking new Nintendo Switches and fans were crestfallen.

“Tom Nook is here to help you file your tax returns…and he already has an idea for what to do with your refund!” Nintendo of America tweeted. There was an accompanying hyperlink to the Nintendo website. Was this news about one of the company’s most anticipated games of 2019? Maybe a release date or a new gameplay trailer? It was neither. The link went to the Nintendo website’s Switch page, at the top of which reads “Available Now” with a price of $300. Nook was not inviting fans to pre-order Animal Crossing Switch, he was just selling Switches, and not even at a discount.

“I think you’re telling people to buy a Switch but I don’t think that’s how people are going to take this,” wrote YouTuber ArloStuff, whose channel covers Nintendo and stars a blue muppet. He was right of course. “Nintendo of America I swear to god,” wrote Splatoon YouTuber OctoBoy. Over a thousand people liked his tweet, signing onto the open-ended threat.

Switch owners and Animal Crossing fans alike have been waiting for news about the next Animal Crossing game for a long time. They were distraught when it wasn’t shown at E3 2018, but still ecstatic when Nintendo finally teased it during a Direct video showcase last September.That was only a one and a half minute video of Tom Nook sitting at a desk making small talk, but it was still something. Fans are still waiting on hard news, however, and Nintendo hasn’t been forthcoming. Animal Crossing Switch was missing from the company’s February Direct as well. Understandably they have become ravenous.

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What will the new town look like? How many different types of fruit will fall from its trees? Will Nook hike his interest rates to keep up with America’s currently booming economy? So many questions. No new answers.

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The mood in the thread quickly turned conspiratorial, as evidenced by the following exchange:

Commenter A: The comments have already devolved into AC fans demanding/hyping news.

Commenter B: You can’t blame ’em though.

Commenter A: Uh, yea I can.

Commenter C: Nahhhh you can’t blame us. They did this on purpose.

Some fans, desperate to find meaning in everything Nintendo does, no matter how seemingly straightforward an action it might otherwise seem, now even believe that April 15, the day tax filings are due to the IRS, might also be the day Animal Crossing Switch launches, or at least when Nintendo is planning a mega info dump. “Maybe we’ll get a direct in the 15th of april,” wrote one person, to which another responded “You’re onto something omg.” In fact, Nintendo has held 11 Directs in the month of April since the digital presentations began, including an hour-long session detailing Arms and Splatoon 2 on April 12, 2017.

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Other fans joked that maybe Nintendo was secretly revealing that Animal Crossing Switch will be the first game in the series to include a complex tax system. After all, what better way to simulate the chill virtues of slowly grinding through daily life than keeping track of all your tax deductions? Maybe there would be a special guest appearance by Yoshi who could school the player on tax evasion.

Of course, even if Nintendo was just trying to sell Switches, something still doesn’t add up. Lots of companies love to aggressively market for a share of people’s tax refund checks. I think I have half a dozen emails from GameStop asking me to spend mine on Funko pops. But sending Tom Nook to do the job? Staring the avatar of debt bondage squarely in the eye makes me want to do a lot of things, but dropping $300 to treat myself is not one of them. Maybe what the tweet really reveals is that Nook has ditched his capitalist impulses and embraced Anarcho-communism.