Skip to content

Is Animal Crossing free with Nintendo‘s expansion pack? Let me explain…

Hey friend! If you‘re an Animal Crossing fan like me, you‘ve probably heard about the new Happy Home Paradise DLC that came out. But you might be wondering – can I get it for free if I have a Nintendo Switch Online membership?

The short answer is: Unfortunately, regular Nintendo Switch Online does not give you access to the Animal Crossing DLC.

However, upgrading to the pricier Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack membership does let you download the DLC at no extra cost!

I‘ll explain everything in this guide so you can decide if it‘s worth paying for the Expansion Pack. Let‘s dive in!

Here‘s the deal with Nintendo Switch Online

First, what exactly are these Nintendo Switch Online memberships?

Basically, they give you access to online multiplayer gaming, cloud backups for save data, and a bunch of classic NES/SNES games. Here are the current membership options:

  • Individual (1 person) – $19.99 per year
  • Family (up to 8 people) – $34.99 per year

Pretty straightforward, right? These memberships let you play Animal Crossing online and visit friends‘ islands.

But unfortunately, they do not include any DLC or expansions for first-party Nintendo games like Animal Crossing. You‘d have to buy those separately.

Introducing the Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack

Now, here‘s where things get a bit more complicated. Nintendo introduced a new premium membership level called "Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack."

This membership costs more, but it includes some bonus content:

  • Access to a library of classic Nintendo 64 and SEGA Genesis games
  • Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Happy Home Paradise DLC
  • Mario Kart 8 Deluxe – Booster Course Pass DLC

The Expansion Pack runs $49.99 for an individual membership or $79.99 for a family membership per year.

So it‘s quite a bit pricier than regular Switch Online. But you get those extra perks like the Animal Crossing DLC.

What exactly is the Happy Home Paradise DLC?

Before we go any further, let‘s talk about what the Happy Home Paradise DLC actually includes.

Released in November 2021, this paid expansion adds a whole new resort area to Animal Crossing: New Horizons. At the resort, you can design vacation homes for villager clients and really flex your decoration skills.

Some of the major features include:

  • Build vacation homes for villagers with special requests
  • Customize home exteriors, interiors, yards, lighting, furniture, and more
  • Unlock partition walls, columns, counters, ambient lighting, ceiling decor, and more design options
  • Create facilities like schools, restaurants, hospitals, and design every part of them
  • Explore a new island resort region called the archipelago
  • Meet new characters like Niko and Wardell who run the resort
  • Acquire a new currency called Poki and spend it on rare furniture

Based on the trailers and reviews, it looks like a massive content update for fans who want to spend dozens more hours designing homes.

So in summary – the Happy Home Paradise DLC is a big expansion that lets you design vacation homes and facilities at a tropical resort. And it‘s included with a Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack membership.

How many people have a Switch Online membership?

To understand the appeal of the Expansion Pack, let‘s look at how many people already subscribe to regular Switch Online in the first place:

  • As of September 2021, Nintendo reported over 32 million Switch Online memberships worldwide
  • That‘s up from 26 million memberships in September 2020
  • In 2021, over 22 million of those memberships were family plans (the rest individual)

Based on these numbers, it‘s safe to say a huge portion of Switch owners – likely a majority – are already paying for Switch Online annually.

For all those millions of subscribers, upgrading to the Expansion Pack gives them the Animal Crossing DLC for just $30 more per year. That could be appealing, especially if you were already considering Switch Online anyway.

Analyzing the Happy Home Paradise sales data

Nintendo doesn‘t share exact sales figures for DLC like Happy Home Paradise. But some estimates give us clues for how popular it is:

  • In Japan, Happy Home Paradise sold over 264,000 copies in its first week according to Famitsu
  • That‘s impressive considering New Horizons sold 1.88 million copies total in Japan in its first year
  • Based on downloads, analysts estimate over 2 million global sales in the first month

Given that New Horizons has sold over 37 million copies worldwide as of March 2022, even 2-3 million DLC purchases is a significant chunk of the overall player base.

In fact, according to analyst David Gibson, about 5-10% of New Horizons players were expected to buy the DLC.

So while it‘s not every fan, the Happy Home Paradise expansion has certainly appealed to millions of devoted Animal Crossing players globally based on early data.

Would you recommend buying it separately?

If you don‘t care about the Nintendo 64 and Genesis games from Expansion Pack, I think purchasing the Happy Home Paradise DLC by itself is a perfectly valid option.

At only $24.99 in the U.S., that‘s a great value for the sheer amount of new content, items, and design features you get. It really takes the creative gameplay of Animal Crossing to new heights.

Buying it separately also means you‘ll have permanent access to the DLC, even if you cancel Switch Online later.

So if you won‘t use the other benefits of Expansion Pack, grabbing the DLC à la carte is a great way to go.

Plus, you can take advantage of any eShop sales that pop up. I got the DLC for 20% off during a recent eShop sale!

Or is the Expansion Pack worth it for you?

Now let‘s flip that around – who would I recommend upgrading to the full Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack membership?

I think the Expansion Pack makes the most sense if:

  • You were already seriously considering a Switch Online family membership anyway for the multi-player and cloud backups.
  • You have nostalgia and interest in playing those classic Nintendo 64, Genesis, and SEGA games.
  • You‘re a huge Animal Crossing fan who will get tons of enjoyment from the DLC.
  • You have family or friends who also want access to the Animal Crossing DLC and retro games.

Since the family Expansion Pack allows up to 8 users, it can be a killer value if you split the $79.99 per year. That‘s only $10 each for access to the DLC and nostalgic games.

For me personally as a big Animal Crossing fan, I find the Expansion Pack worthwhile when I break down the math:

  • I‘d probably pay $35 per year for a family Switch Online membership anyway
  • So the upgrade to Expansion Pack is only $45 more for the year
  • That works out to just $3.75 extra per month – totally reasonable in my book!

But it really comes down to your specific interests and how much value you‘d get from those bonus features.

Some final thoughts

Hopefully this breakdown has helped explain exactly how the Switch Online memberships relate to the Animal Crossing Happy Home Paradise DLC.

While regular Switch Online doesn‘t offer the DLC access, upgrading to the Expansion Pack includes the AC DLC along with some retro games.

For me, the Expansion Pack is worth it as an avid Animal Crossing fan. But purchasing the DLC separately is also a great choice if you won‘t use the other Expansion Pack perks.

At the end of the day, approach it based on your budget, interests, and how much you anticipate playing Happy Home Paradise. Either way, it‘s an amazing expansion that takes the creativity of New Horizons to new levels!

Let me know if you have any other questions! I‘m always happy to chat more about Animal Crossing tips and strategies.



Michael Reddy is a tech enthusiast, entertainment buff, and avid traveler who loves exploring Linux and sharing unique insights with readers.