5 Dollars a Year Isn't Bad for Nintendo's Pokemon Subscription Service

Nintendo will let you bring Pokemon over from Black/White and Black/White 2... for an annual fee.

News by Mike Williams, .

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 is the middleman you never knew you wanted.

"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."

Oh yeah, there's new Mega Evolutions, too.

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?

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Comments 14

  • Avatar for aaronpinsley40 #1 aaronpinsley40 4 years ago
    Kind of surprised they don't throw in an "event" pokemon just to sweeten the pot, but at that price, it's very worth it for a certain kind of fan.
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  • Avatar for docexe #2 docexe 4 years ago
    Not really Pokémon fan, so this doesn’t really benefit or affect me. The thing that makes it interesting to me is the fact that Nintendo is finally embracing cloud technologies and internet services, a step forward in terms of their internet infrastructure (now if only they moved to an account based system instead of hardware bound one). Ultimately though, I agree: A $5.00 annual fee for a service like this is consumer friendly and will benefit the fans of the series.
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  • Avatar for EnderTZero #3 EnderTZero 4 years ago
    I'd rate this as a great system for consolidating 3 generations worth of Pokemon, on its own merits. What purpose does that serve though? I mean, using your old favorites/legendaries for the campaign feels like breaking the game, and for the Smogon crowd this will serve to fragment the rules of play (Gen 3 leagues, all-Gen leagues, insert Poke mixture here leagues), which potentially makes things a lot more interesting but will just raise the barrier to entry for everyone else. Perhaps there's something to be said for having your shinies all in one place. I guess Pokemon just isn't central enough to my tastes for this to be a good thing rather than a source of extra hassle.
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  • Avatar for Terpiscorei #4 Terpiscorei 4 years ago
    Importing across generations, and even within one, ala B/W to B/W2, has always been a huge hassle. I think this alone makes it worth the nominal fee Nintendo is asking. Moreover, the further implications of this bank system might be interesting. Gen 5 already introduced the Pokemon Global Link; hopefully this bank system would interface off of that. It'd be nice to access the bank from a browser to sort your collection or possibly even trade.
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  • Avatar for Wellman #5 Wellman 4 years ago
    Let's be honest, $5 ain't bad. Depending on how far they have the 'Pokemon Bank' aspect in the main game, one could possibly use this as a way to store pokemon start over and get one of the starters you didn't select. Or just pay $5 once inbetween the 12-18 month gap between releases for movement. The fact that one has a method to move in future installments is also solid. Hardcore Pokemon fans will love it and find some way to abuse the hell out of it, casuals don't even have to bother unless Nintendo does something like not include their favorite Pokemon in a new game and they really want them.
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  • Avatar for CK20XX #6 CK20XX 4 years ago
    Eh... the service itself sounds fine. It's just that a lot of homebrew PC applications already do what it does, and often in better ways. Since Pokemon is one of the most popular things on the planet, you can bet that those unofficial apps and services will continue to be around and get brought up to date for Generation Six.

    You shouldn't need to have over a thousand pokemon either, but the well-preserved battle system restricts most pokemon to being one-trick ponies, so you usually end up making a lot of pokemon to compensate. That's always been a flaw in the game design, at least as far as the game's random battles go. Singles, Doubles, Triples, Rotation Battles, and Swarm Battles all require very different strategies, such that a pokemon designed for one kind of battle can easily get splattered if it's put into another, and being limited to six pokemon per team means you're going to create a team that functions well in only one or two of those battle styles. So since it's impossible to prepare for every kind of battle, the game tends to play it safe by sticking only to single battles, which can easily get boring and repetitive.

    Ideally you ought to be able to teach every pokemon five movesets, five different "strategies" if you will, one for each of those battling styles, and have the pokemon automatically switch to the right moveset depending on what kind of battle it's in. Then the game would suddenly be free to throw all kinds of different battles at you and the game would be more fun for it. None of this "Oh, we introduced triple battles in Gen 5, but there's only, like, two of them in the whole game, so they might as well not exist" nonsense.
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  • Avatar for PsychicPumpkin #7 PsychicPumpkin 4 years ago
    I didn't really play black and white but I've got plenty of Pokemon on Pearl and Platinum. If I could transfer from them, I'd sign up in a second.Edited September 2013 by PsychicPumpkin
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  • Avatar for Stevegasm #8 Stevegasm 4 years ago
    @docexe Pokemon games come in two parts. There's the story, which takes you generally to level 50-60. This is where you go through the 8 gym trainers, the final four, and the grand champion. Throwing in your old stuff can break it, but you can only use traded pokemon up to a certain level based on how many badges you have. Chances are, your best stuff is too high to use during the story anyway.

    Once the story is done, then you get into an end game sorta thing. Pokemon league, and other zones and areas open up. Here is where things get harder, and where your previous stuff comes into play. You also get the National Pokedex (aka checklist), which in order to complete, you need every single pokemon ever made to complete.
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  • Avatar for docexe #9 docexe 4 years ago
    @Stevegasm Errr... I think@EnderTZero was who you wanted to adress with that comment.
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  • Avatar for EnderTZero #10 EnderTZero 4 years ago
    @Stevegasm I've played through games from every generation and I've sunk hundreds of hours into Pokemon, don't misunderstand. I get setting up a party to take on the battle arena content, but paying money to fill out a Pokedex makes no sense to me. You aren't getting anything for your money at that point, other than that trainer card sticker. Again, I'm not on any of the forums or anything, so it might just be that I'm not close enough to the community to care.
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  • Avatar for Stevegasm #11 Stevegasm 4 years ago
    @EnderTZero I suppose it's the convenience of it really. I've only been into the series since I got Platinum on a whim 4 years ago. I ended up getting Heart Gold, White, and White 2. When I got HG, I was hankering for a way to transfer my stuff up to the next one without borrowing a friend's system (which I never bothered doing). This seems like an answer to that.

    Once I got my 3DS, I was able to do so on my own, but even that was really tedious. Maybe I wasn't looking hard enough, but I couldn't find a way to do it without grinding out garbage Pokemons for the current game as trade filler. Depending on how smooth and fast this is, the $5 will probably seem like a paltry sum compared to the time you could save yourself.
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  • Avatar for WillowWolf #12 WillowWolf 4 years ago
    Ehh... I'm not a fan of subscriptions, but I'd pay $5 once to be able to have all of the pokemon I want from my old games. What I really want, since I don't play competitively is that exploit you could use in Black/White and Black2/White 2 where you used an online database to manipulate the Global Trading system to get whatever pokemon you choose. Play through once with normal pokemon choices, play through a second time with as many of the first choices of pokemon I want! Still, $5 a year is WAY better than $5 a month.
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