Introduction

Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a life simulation game developed and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo Switch, and the fifth main entry in the Animal Crossing series. The game went viral from its release during the global stay-at-home orders during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the game, players create and control their character who lives on an initially remote island with anthropomorphic animal neighbors. The player has near total control over the development of the island into a small community, and with enough dedication and luck (really, lots of both), can invite their favorite or “dream villagers” to live on their island to complete one part their ideal community.

Fan Community run websites help enthusiastic fans keep a pulse on which collectible items, villagers, etc. are in demand for determining trading prices with other players. One such website, Animal Crossing Portal has been running a monthly poll where fans can vote for up to 5 villagers (formerly 3 in the early days).

Raymond the Cat in particular was one villager that attained newsworthy status (see, e.g. Why Raymond is the Most Popular Animal Crossing: New Horizons Villager). He is a new villager to the series and has been in close battles for the top popularity spot with Marshal the Squirrel, a newcomer from the previous game and was the most popular villager from that era.

Raymond and Marshal notably share three traits provided in the game data: they both have the ‘Smug’ Personality, which determines how they speak for example, both are Male gendered, and both prefer to wear ‘Elegant’-styled clothing. This brings up the question whether a villager’s popularity is possibly correlated with their in-game provided traits. This is possible to explore with the publicly available poll results from Animal Crossing Portal.

Another factor I will explore is the whether villager rarity in game (explained further later) is also a contributing factor to villager popularity.

Clarifying points about the data: Data taken from the polls and used for this analysis is taken from June 2020 to October 2021. From June 2020 to January 2021, fans were allowed to pick up to 3 villagers. After, they were allowed to pick up to 5 villagers.
Villager analysis is limited to the original 391 villagers included at the time of the game’s release. I cut off the poll period for the analysis at October 2021 due to the November 2021 update adding new villagers that some in particular became very popular shaking up the usual list of most popular villagers. There were new villagers introduced in March 2021 as part of a collaboration with Sanrio, but those villagers were not popular enough to break into the topmost spots.

Data about villager traits were taken from this Kaggle dataset.