Friday, January 17, 2014

A Run on the Pokébank

Back before X and Y hit stores, Game Freak gave details about Pokémon Bank, an application on the 3DS that allows trainers to store over 1,000 creatures in online boxes. In addition, Pokémon Bank comes with PokéTransporter, which allows trainers to transfer Pokémon from 5th generation up. The original release date was December 27th. It is now January 17th, and Pokémon Bank still isn't available.

So what happened? Initially, the original release date was postponed due to server crashes the Nintendo eShop suffered with so many new users logging in with their 3DS's and Wii U's they got for Christmas. Those lucky enough in Japan could download Pokémon Bank, but it was quickly taken down before the rest of the world had access. Since then, the eShop has been fixed but Pokémon Bank still remains unreleased, without even a new release date given at the time of writing. I usually wouldn't complain about a delayed launch; it's natural in the video game industry. But the Pokémon Company has put itself at odds with its fanbase for a lack of clear communication.

Does that mean no Pokémon Bank?
 Much of Pokémon's communication through Facebook and Twitter is about anything but Pokémon Bank. There are updates on the released Heart Gold/Soul Silver soundtrack, the Mewtwo special airing on Cartoon Network, and even fun caption contests, but nothing about Pokémon Bank. The most information we've received is a cryptic tweet stating "more information will be announced in the future." I understand that the people managing the social media accounts might have just as much information as we do, but couldn't someone higher up cue them in so they can stop giving vague answers?

A tweet sent out by Nintendo on January 10th. There hasn't been an update since then (at the time of writing).

The greatest cause of frustration is the fact that those who already downloaded Pokémon Bank can still use its services. It's an obvious unfair advantage when some trainers can bring Pokémon unavailable in X and Y. Sure, you might get lucky and trade for a Totodile you can breed, but good luck facing Arceus and Lugia when you don't have your own. The video below shows exactly how Pokémon Bank works. Props to SqishyRina for the video.

The fact that Pokémon Bank still works for those who download it means there's not a functionality issue. At the moment, it takes some time to connect to servers, so I'll give Pokémon the benefit of the doubt and assume that's what they're working on. But if that's what they are doing, why don't they just say it?! My biggest fear is that the delay of Pokémon Bank's launch is meant to wait out the free initial trial period originally promised and start charging the annual $5 fee. Of course, that would be one of the most notorious moves in the video game industry, so it's highly doubtful. But fans are getting impatient, and rightfully so.

Whenever Pokémon posts anything on social media, they're met with angry fans clamoring for news on Pokémon Bank. Who can blame them? Nintendo and the Pokémon company have fell silent about addressing this issue and further alienates its fans with vague responses. Meanwhile, Pokémon still promotes everything else under the sun and trainers are receiving an unfair advantage online. It's understandable that Pokémon Bank is delayed, but fans are hanging on empty promises when a company fails to address issues head on.

Pretty much how I feel right now


  1. Because of the lack of communication, the actual cause of the delay is doomed to be just speculation. But I find it hard to believe that Nintendo is this incompetent in dealing with their servers - so I highly doubt it's an eShop issue. If it is, they must be the worst billion dollar company at dealing with server issues.

    I wouldn't be surprised if GameFreak has pulled the app in order to tweak security, given that illegal Pokemon have gotten through - while most are harmless (ie. lv 1 legends), there are some that have hidden abilities that have not yet been made available.

    Of course, this then means that JP and KR still having access to the service is even more unfair (especially when Pokemon-GL should be able to suspend the Bank service until the re-release if they want).

    Pretty much, there's very little way for them to justify the issue/s that have plagued this lack-of-release. The only way for them to even have a chance at convincing fans they haven't been incompetent is to be clear and transparent in their communication. "We'll provide information in the future" is a joke when that tweet was made about 3 weeks after the non-release, and when to this point we still don't have a scrap of what's currently going on.

    1. I couldn't agree more with you. It's frustrating at this point to hear vague responses when we don't even know when they'll be able to address it. Does the "future" mean tomorrow or next week or next year?

      If it's about hacked Pokémon, they should just come out and say it. They were pretty open about disqualifying participants in the Global Showdown Wi-Fi competition. Honestly, the cause of delay doesn't frustrate me at all; it's the lack of response.