Distributed content, also known as downloadable content (DLC), in the Animal Crossing series refers to items and other content distributed by Nintendo, usually over the internet. Distributed items have appeared in some form in every Animal Crossing game since Animal Crossing.
In Animal Crossing
In Animal Crossing, items were distributed through the use of secret codes. Codes for items in the Mario Theme as well as the Mario Trophy and Luigi Trophy were published in issues of Nintendo Power from 2003 to 2004 and on the game's official website. Codes were featured in a section titled "Tom Nook's Delivery Service".
Due to the lack of internet capabilities, distributed items were already present within the base game.
In Wild World
Animal Crossing: Wild World marks the first time items were directly distributed to the game, via both DS Download Stations and the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. Unique items, including the Mario Theme, Pikmin, and Blue Falcon, were distributed via DS Download Stations, and letters containing items were sent over the Internet via the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. Content was distributed to Wild World from its release in 2005 until 2009.
In City Folk
Distributed items were scheduled to be released during a 7-day period, where the item is received within the allotted time. Pete, the mail carrier, gives the player an item attached as a present on a letter. He would mention that the letters are from Nintendo, but some may be signed by special characters or characters from other Nintendo franchises. Additionally, Wendell would occasionally give the player one of his designs to commemorate a special occasion.
Distribution of City Folk items ended on June 28, 2013 along with the dicontinuation of WiiConnect24.
In New Leaf
In Animal Crossing: New Leaf, items could be received from Nintendo Zone locations or over Wi-Fi. The items are obtainable in-game in the Post Office, or very rarely, in the mail. At the Post Office, the player can talk to Pelly or Phyllis to ask if a gift is available, and they will then be asked whether to check via Wi-Fi or Nintendo Zones. Some DLC items can be re-ordered from the catalog, while other items cannot.
DLC over Wi-Fi was discontinued after June 20, 2015, and Nintendo Zone downloadable content was discontinued as well after the discontinuation of the Nintendo Zone service.
In Happy Home Designer
In New Horizons
In Animal Crossing: New Horizons, items are primarily distributed through letters or the Nintendo eShop. Items that are downloaded through the Nintendo eShop have to be purchased through the Nook Stop for either Nook Miles or Bells.