If you’ve been following POKÉMON, Nintendo, or any video game news at all lately, you’ve likely seen the new POKÉMON announcements. The Nintendo Switch already has a myriad of games available, from standard titles to small indie series. However, since it’s March 3rd launch last year, we’ve only now just begun to see news of a title POKÉMON game for the console. This is rare, especially for Nintendo.
In past years, nearly every Nintendo console has launched alongside a major title POKÉMON game. For Game Boy systems, these were the classic paired releases, while consoles like the Gamecube got their own games shortly after release. Included in Nintendo’s recent annual video game conference were two new titles for the series. POKÉMON: LET’S GO, PIKACHU!/LET’S GO, EEVEE! and POKÉMON QUEST will combine the classic gameplay of the previous games with the augmented reality of POKÉMON GO. But, there is one notable change. Playing, battling, and trading with your friends online will no longer be free as it was in the past.
The most recent 3ds titles have free online ranked battles as part of the games | Image: Pokémon Global Link
LET’S GO is an updated version of the Game Boy Color titles from two decades ago. As such, the game’s Pokémon are from the original Kanto region. Players can choose either Pikachu or an Eevee as their partner as they dash from city to city. QUEST is somewhat similar but has art featuring cubelike renditions of pokémon. Both LET’S GO games will have recurring costs to play online.
This isn’t the first time Nintendo has made an online service cost a bit of money. POKÉMON BANK, Nintendo’s massive Pokémon storage service, had an annual fee. What’s different about this particular issue is that these online costs are for basic gameplay. The bank was never necessary to enjoy the game completely. In reality, only those who had kept up with their POKÉMON collections from previous games or did a lot of in-game breeding needed it. The cost associated with the new games is for all online play.
So How Much are we Paying?
The short answer? Not that much. But any cost is higher than free. Eurogamer received an official statement from a spokesperson for The Pokemon Company about the news. Check out the details for the subscription below:
Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee! will have online play functionality. Battling and trading with other players over the internet or locally will be available in these games…However, the feature set will be somewhat simplified in comparison to previous games in that there is no GTS, Wonder Trade, or Battle Spot (Rating Battle, Free Battle, and Online Competition, etc.) for example…An active membership for the Nintendo Switch Online service, which is scheduled to begin in September of this year, will be required to access these features.
The statement confirms that not only will online play be trimmed down, but it will also require membership. Most notable is the lack of Battle Spot, which allows players to compete with other players worldwide in ranked battles and tournaments. The service costs $3.99 for one month, $7.99 for three months, or $19.99 for a full year. Those are for individual accounts. A family membership will set you back $34.99 and is only available for a year-long membership across eight people.
By any standard, this price might be annoying, but it’s not too high. It’s not unusual for online console gaming to have some sort of fees. Without paying, you’ll still have access to standard gameplay and local co-op. But the best parts of the newer games are often online events. On the bright side, paying for Nintendo Switch Online has a bunch of other great services included. The fee covers online play for a host of other Switch games like SPLATOON 2, ARMS, and MARIO KART 8 DELUXE. Nintendo will release several classic NES games via the service. Finally, and most important, you’ll have access to easily save data backup so you’ll always have those hours of gameplay if your switch is lost, stolen, or broken.
Overall, the costs of Nintendo Switch Online for a full year breaks down to $1.67 a month. That’s less than the price of a latte, and you’ll have access to more games than just these new titles. The cost is annoying, but to get access to full features and special offers it’s more than worth it.
Despite a recent outcry against Pokémon Go by religious fanatics on social media, the mobile app is doing a lot of good for those suffering from various mental illnesses. By encouraging players to interact with one another, exercise, and leave their homes, Pokémon Go is actually improving the mental health and as a result, the lives, of many people suffering from anxiety and depression.