With almost every new generation of Pokémon games players have been able to transfer their hard-earned Pocket Monsters from one generation to the next completely free of charge. That’s all about to change.
It’s finally happened. Nintendo has discovered a way to further capitalize on the deep bonds between trainers and their Pokémon.
Starting December 27, 3DS owners will be able to download Pokémon Bank, an app that lets you store up to 3,000 Pokémon online so that you can trade them between games. Anyone who downloads it by January 31, 2014 gets a 30-day trial subscription. After that, it’s $4.99 a year. Not too bad, but it’s the only way to transfer Pokémon from Generation V (Pokémon Black & White and their sequels) to Pokémon X & Y.
Sorry, Nintendo, but this is bullshit. Any time a company forces customers to pay for something that’s been free for more than a decade, I’m forced to call shenanigans.
Back in the Ruby & Sapphire days, Nintendo released Pokémon Box for the Gamecube. It let you hook up your Game Boy Advance to the console and dump Pokémon onto a Gamecube memory card. This was perfect for things like collecting and breeding – especially once you ran out of room to store your Pokémon on the actual GBA cart. But here’s the thing: Pokémon Box was a standalone thing strictly for storing and organizing Pokémon – you didn’t NEED it for trading Pokémon between games.
Pokémon Bank takes the same concept of storage, but puts it online and makes you pay for it. Considering most people will probably only buy this for the transferring capabilities, it seems like Nintendo found a quick and easy way to make A LOT of money. Sure, it’s only $5 a year, but that money adds up when millions of players around the world are paying it. It’s hard not to feel taken advantage of.
There’s also some pretty scary drawbacks to hosting your Pocket Monsters on the cloud. These were taken from the official Pokémon Bank FAQ page.
So, once you store your Pokémon, pay five bucks a year or lose them forever. Kind of like ransom, only you have the option of backing them up to your 3DS game whenever you want. Just don’t forget to renew to subscription. Mark a calendar. Set an alarm. Not the most convenient thing in the world.
The good news is, Pokémon Bank comes with a companion app, Poké Transporter. Poké Transporter lets you transfer any of your Pokémon to Pokémon bank without having to use multiple 3DS systems.
But what if you just want to transfer your dudes without having to use Pokémon Bank? Let’s consult our good friend, the FAQ.
“No, that is not possible. Poké Transporter is companion software that works together with Pokémon Bank to transfer Pokémon from your copies of Pokémon Black, Pokémon White, Pokémon Black 2, and Pokémon White 2 to your own private Boxes hosted online through the Pokémon Bank service. After downloading Pokémon Bank, you can download Poké Transporter for no charge.”
Okay, so maybe there’s a way to transfer Pokémon directly from the B&W games to the X&Y games for free without having to store anything online – like, maybe you can do it locally somehow using two systems like you could with from the DIamond/Pearl/Platinum games to the B&W games. Makes sense, right?
Are you kidding me? Why the hell not? The technology clearly exists, so why make loyal fans jump through hoops to do things that were more streamlined (and free!) in previous generations?
Nintendo could have at least done us a solid by letting us store a small amount of Pokémon in Pokémon Bank for free using the memory on our systems, then offering the online storage as a paid upgrade. Or at least let us transfer stuff without needing the online subscription.
Maybe I’m making a bigger deal out of this than it really is. Maybe it’ll be awesome and I’ll be wrong. Five bucks is nothing, but it’s about more than just that. Transfering shit between games used to be free! Regardless, I’m probably just going to transfer my Pokémon while I have the free trial subscription and then never mess with it again.