Who am I? A lover of the video game industry. I read about video games more than I play them. The various aspects and mechanics of design are what really intrigue me, and it's always fun to have a healthy debate about them.
(A little note before I begin- firstly, no pictures, because I couldn't be bothered to do that today. Secondly, yeesh, my first blog since June? I've been typing things up since then, but for the most part I've just not been satisfied with anything I've worked on, written or otherwise. So here's something for you guys to chew on, if any of you happen to like my blogs. But I should stop myself from rambling and let you get to the meat of the blog.)
Just yesterday morning, Nintendo aired a Pokémon Direct that shed light on some new details about the game. First thing I want to get out of the way- you get the original set of starters from the professor, and boy, do their Mega Evolutions look amazing. But that isn’t really what I’m concerned about. No, I want to talk about that other thing they revealed today- Pokémon Bank.
Pokémon Bank is, essentially, a shared pool of boxes across all of your Generation VI games, and potential future games in the series as well. Additionally, a companion app will allow you to move your Pokémon from the fifth generation into the boxes as well. This means that, in effect, you no longer have to clutch to more than one game system to do the tediously long process of transferring between games, and you even have a way to store your Pokémon if you ever get the itch to replay your games. Sounds awesome, right? Well, I’m not so convinced.
The main sticking point for me is that Pokémon Bank is a cloud-based service. That means we’re handing our Pokémon over to their online servers and hoping that the Nintendo Network doesn’t go down the entire time that they have our Pokémon in storage. My question is this: what if we have a hack that brings down the network, like the PSN hacks of the not-too-distant past? That’s potentially several years’ worth of time we’ve invested into these games, gone down the drain. Remember, they will be supporting Pokémon from all the way back to the Ruby and Sapphire days, and that was a little over a decade ago.
Additionally, it requires that I’d be connected to the internet whenever I wished to access my Pokémon. For a game that encourages you to take on the go and trade and battle with people wherever you meet them, that’s incredibly limiting, isn’t it? Perhaps not in Japan, but this still speaks to the rather Japan-centric view Game Freak has, even in this situation of a global release. Not everywhere in the US has a reliable internet connection. I’m willing to bet the same is true of some of the other countries that the games will launch in.
And then there’s the annual fee. It’s supposedly around $5 a year, which isn’t that bad of a cost, but then you remember that transfers from the old generation are tied to this online service. In previous generations, transfers were a free service, albeit one locked until you cleared the Elite Four for the first time. Now, there is the free one month trial period for this service, but what happens when that trial is finished and you haven’t paid the fee? I don’t like the idea that someone’s Pokémon can be held hostage just because they might not have the means to pay for the service…like a young child, for example.
Really though, I’m ignoring some of the benefits of cloud storage, aren’t I? It is true that, rather than having to maintain all of your data yourself across multiple carts, which are easily lost, and downloadable apps that can be lost if your system is lost or corrupted, cloud storage handles all of that for you and will still be there – or so we hope, anyways – if you happen to lose your 3DS, your games, or both. My biggest issue is that it is the only way, one that asks for a continuous fee every year.
I would much rather have a locally-based storage application for the Wii U, 3DS, or even my PC that I have to pay a one-time fee for, and that’s it. Maybe price it at $10; or $15 if you want to match the price of My Pokémon Ranch. This one would accomplish all of the same things the online based application would, except it would be on the player to keep track of their own Pokémon. Then if they want, they could still offer the online service as an alternative for players who aren’t comfortable with keeping their collection on hand in case they manage to lose that data. This way, people who don’t mind the fee and problems of cloud storage can still use Pokémon Bank, and people like myself who would rather not be reliant on Nintendo’s servers can keep our Pokémon on local storage. Unfortunately, I doubt Game Freak is going to change their minds this late into the game.