Nintendo last night announced Pokémon Bank, a special app for Nintendo 3DS that allows you to transfer up to 3,000 pocket monsters to a dedicated cloud service. What initial excitement fans had about the service was quickly replaced with frustration when the company announced it would require a yearly subscription fee.
At time of writing only Japan has a confirmed price, which works out to be roughly $5USD, a fee no one can argue is by any means unfair. When we think about a hypothetical price for Australia, where most things are more expensive “just because”, the worst case scenario we can hope for is $10 per year (which works out to be roughly .83 cents per month). Again, considering the fee isn’t more than this no one can really take issue with this.
With this in mind, let’s all take a moment to remember Pokémon Bank looks to be completely optional, an extra layer of gravy, if you will, on the already meaty Pokémon experience. It provides a service fans have been asking for, and one that not allows you to store literally thousands of Pokémon but makes it incredibly easier to transfer your favourite ‘mons from one generation to next (via use of the Poké-Transfer and Pokémon Bank). However, and perhaps most importantly, it’s separate from the complete experience you’ll get when you hand over $60-70 at the cash register come October 12.
Pokémon Bank doesn’t appear to devalue the core games for which it’s developed, meaning you can enjoy Pokémon X and Pokémon Y exactly how the folks at Game Freak intended.
Of course this rational line of thought could be rendered moot if the yearly fee climbs beyond $10, wherein majority of fans will possibly take up arms against Nintendo, resulting in no doubt yet another Petition.Org. If this were to eventuate, I’m not so sure Nintendo actually deserve any flack whatsoever for their insistence to charge a subscription fee for Pokémon Bank.
For one, the company has already been upfront as to why there’s a fee - to maintain server upkeep for the future, ensure updates and compatibility with future games - instead of remaining silent. Where the company has opened itself to ridicule is in not clarifying what the fee would be in the European/US/Australian markets straight out of the gate, like it did with Japan. However in saying that, Microsoft, and soon Sony, already charge users for online services such as multiplayer and cloud saves; so why shouldn’t Nintendo?
This is the first instance we’ve seen where Nintendo plans to charge users to utilise an online service, something the company has held back doing for sometime. Yes, the online services of both the Nintendo 3DS and Wii U aren’t as robust or “active” enough to justify a monthly fee, but the fact it’s the only free online service going into the next-generation shouldn’t be underestimated.
To loop back to the topic at hand before my coffee mug runs out, Pokémon Bank provides users a totally optional service, and one you can choose not to buy into if you don’t want. Nintendo isn’t telling you, neither are Game Freak. These two companies, along with The Pokémon Company, have simply identified the needs of a specific market, and catered to that while looking to turn a profit and expand their online services equally.
Of course this is just my opinion, so tell me; what are your thoughts on Pokémon Bank? Do you plan on using it come October 12?