Disney Dreamlight Valley launched in early access on September 6th 2022, emulating and refining what New Horizons provided, but with extra flavor and style. It brought a role-playing experience to the life simulation genre, made things more accessible, and left plenty of room for future additions and features.
Upon its initial release, Disney Dreamlight Valley became a part of the Xbox Game Pass but was otherwise a paid game. Yet, plans are in place for it to become free-to-play as soon as it leaves its early access status. This risks annoying those who pay before others get it for free, but the former can enjoy special benefits for joining before the masses.
As a prominent Nintendo game, Animal Crossing: New Horizons will never provide such a prospect. In fact, players have to pay extra in order to obtain the Happy Home Paradise DLC. This may be the case with most DLC packs in the gaming industry, but it makes Animal Crossing an expensive series to invest in, at least compared to Disney Dreamlight Valley.