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Pokémon GO (empty your bank accounts!): Transfer Costs Cause Outrage

Written by Culture, Gaming

In February, Pokémon HOME (the virtual holding cells for Pokémon) was launched and it was announced that not only would it give players the ability to trade Pokémons to and from the main-series games, but Pokémon GO was also going to be compatible with the app. Nine months later, that feature was finally released, though not without some controversy.

As Pokémon GO is a free mobile game that doesn’t rely on inundating its millions of players with ads, developers Niantic have had to find other ways to make money. Initially it was cosmetics, Pokéballs, other game enhancers and raid passes. But that was seemingly not enough for Niantic, as now transferring Pokémon is now one of these ways. The ability to transfer Pokémon is gated by transfer costs, which depend on the Pokémon’s rarity and CP. Exceed the limit of 10000 and you have to wait a week to transfer again. Alternatively, you can pay 1000 coins, which would mean buying the £9.99 pack of 1200 coins. Being able to transfer quicker than weekly is effectively locked unless you pay.

(Credit: Pokemon GO)

This recent announcement adds to growing concerns about how developers Niantic are beginning to monetise the game more aggressively, introducing events that specifically rely on the egg hatching mechanic, which has been likened to gacha games. They are similar in that you don’t know what the egg will be until it hatches, but by that point you’ve paid for an incubator, even if all you get is your 50th Feebas. Such practices are banned in Belgium and the Netherlands.

The ability to transfer Pokémon is gated by transfer costs, which depend on the Pokémon’s rarity and CP. Exceed the limit of 10000 and you have to wait a week to transfer again. Alternatively, you can pay 1000 coins.

Pokémon HOME’s price tag attracted similar criticisms when it was first released. Its predecessor had a £5 annual subscription, though this now tripled. Add in the extra charges from Pokémon GO and what was once manageable (and even then a bit greedy because it used to be free) can now stack up to egregious amounts for those willing to spend that kind of money.

This row has been particularly salient regarding Pokémon HOME because the option to transfer all Pokémon to the main series games (such as Sword and Shield) was always possible until HOME released, so the increased price tag happened whilst reducing the primary benefit of these Pokémon storage apps.

Monetisation within games remains to be a very controversial area, with countless games being accused of anti-consumer practices in recent years due to a pursuit of profit. Niantic itself has not yet acted on such accusations, so it will be interesting to see if they change how transferring is going to work. The same goes for The Pokémon Company – as joint owners of one of the most profitable media franchises of all time, you would think they didn’t need to resort to such unsavoury tactics.

[Featured Image: IGDB]

Last modified: 20th November 2020

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