Today during the Pokemon X/Y Nintendo Direct, the company unveiled the Pokemon Bank, a cloud-based service allowing players to store their Pokemon. The Pokemon Bank will store up to 3000 Pokemon for users (100 boxes) in addition to the boxes already available in the game.
The Pokemon Bank will also offer the Poke Transporter, letting you transfer Pokemon from Pokemon Black/White and Pokemon Black/White 2. Users can put their earlier games into the 3DS and use the Poke Transporter to upload their collections into the Bank. Once there, those Pokemon can be downloaded back into Pokemon X/Y.
It's a pretty cool little service, allowing you access to Pokemon as far back as Ruby/Sapphire if you've kept things up to date. The only snag is Nintendo is only offering the Pokemon Bank for an annual subscription.
"Pokemon Bank software is activated upon payment of an annual service fee," said Nintendo in its press release. "This charge will support maintenance of the online server that allows players to store up to 3,000 Pokemon conveniently, and will provide the application's support for future Pokémon titles."
There's no word on how much the service will cost in North America, but the fee is 500 yen per year in Japan, or around $5. That's pretty low for annual fee; hell, I pay more than that monthly for Spotify. Fans at Bulbagarden, one of the biggest Pokemon fansites, seem to understand Nintendo's need for a service fee.
"Assuming the price is reasonable, I understand the annual fee, even if I am a little bit annoyed. I get it though. Hopefully it means it's going to be around for a very long time," wrote user Pastabender.
"It's reasonable to pay for the cloud storage stuff, but not for 5th gen transfers. That's something that should be free," wrote Bolt the Cat. "But I'm glad they did this overall, it's something I think the games have really needed."
While others may be predisposed to calling this move a cash-grab by Nintendo, $5 a year isn't a ton of money and the Pokemon Bank (theoretically) is a long-term service that should extend beyond just Pokemon X/Y. I asked Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter if Nintendo could expect a ton of money from this.
"I think it's a consumer-friendly approach, and is uniquely suited to Pokemon, given the game's almost inexhaustible supply of characters," Pachter replied. "I don't see it as a big revenue or profit driver, as account maintenance probably costs close to the fees collected. Rather, it's a nice service that should spur greater sales of Pokemon games, especially older versions that some newer players haven't played yet."
I personally don't have enough Pokemon in White and White 2 to require the use of the Pokemon Bank. I've only purchased previous generations because my girlfriend is an avid Pokemon player and needs the other games to transfer over Pokemon not available in her chosen version. $5 seems like a reasonable annual fee if you're sporting a huge collection of Pokemon though.
Does the Pokemon Bank make or break the Pokemon franchise for you?