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Pokemon Let’s Go’s Pokeball Controller – An Exercise in Corporate Greed

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Nintendo’s decision to tie a major character exclusively to a $50 dollar Pokeball controller for Let’s Go Pikachu & Eevee’s is pure and blatant greed. Worse yet the silence around the decision in general media is deafening considering we regularly see companies taken to task for these sort of anti-consumer decisions. Let’s Go discuss, shall we?

In case you weren’t aware of what I’m talking about Nintendo has released a Pokeball controller for use in Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu and Let’s Go Eevee. It is undoubtedly a cool piece of collector tech, and though the controls are awkward while using it, the trade-off of the sheer nostalgia play and coolness factor are worth it to most fans—especially the hardcore among them.

So far, so good right? Nintendo produced a custom collector item that has fantastic design appeal and is functional in a game providing even more enjoyment to the most stalwart of fans. How could this possibly be a bad thing?

If we stopped there it wouldn’t be, but in a moment of sheer unmitigated greed (not exactly the most un-Nintendo of moves to be frank) they’ve locked Mew behind this $50 dollar accessory. “Surely this only means I get him early?” I hear you question. “Surely I can get him somewhere else in the game, or by another method, right?”

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Nope. If you want every character that you could get in the original games these remakes are based off of you HAVE to buy this controller. Yes, I’m aware that the only way to get Mew before in the game was either to glitch the game (how I received him back in the day) or go to a special event, however, this is a remake of one of the most iconic games out there, and Mew isn’t exactly generic Pokemon #7300—it is kind of a big deal legendary Pokemon in fact.

“But Daniel, surely I can transfer my Mew I worked so hard to get in Pokemon Go over to Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee?”

Nope again. In fact Nintendo specifically blocked that character so that you couldn’t do that, forcing people who really want the Pokemon to have to splash out $50 on the controller if they want him, whether they feel the controller necessary or not.

On top of THAT, people that do buy the controller only have that Mew one time, and one time only, for only that save. Once you transfer the Mew over from the controller to your game it can never be downloaded again. This means if your save gets deleted, or you want to start a new save elsewhere, that Mew can never be used again.

Sure, they do this to keep from having 15 Mews that we could just trade out for each game, but it could have been easily solved by doing what every other company does with a DLC and locking it to your profile upon download, allowing you to download it as many times as you wish. Surely they could have come up with a way around it, especially since they disable save backup for this specific title.

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So to recap you have a $50 DLC character, with real stats and gameplay, that you can play against other players with, AND can only be used one time only across all of your saves.

And NOBODY is saying ANYTHING?

Over my years of being a gamer I find that when it comes to Nintendo there is a terrible double standard that is employed, mostly due to the rabid loyalty that Nintendo inspires in its most hardcore fans. If you were to categorize me as a fan of anything it would be Nintendo, my room is littered with their merchandise and I find their games among my favorite to play, but I cannot understand this strange double standard. Nintendo is a business, and when they make anti-consumer practices they should at least be discussed in the same vein they would be for other companies. Of course they want to make money, but if this was any other company do you imagine that we would have such deafening silence around this decision?

Imagine if Microsoft or Sony pulled something like this. Sure, locking small insignificant items behind pre-order bonuses or season passes is a normal thing, and it isn’t exactly ground breaking to have a cool accessory have DLC. These DLC items though are usually something insignificant to the game, with no real impact on gameplay itself. If the item attached to the Pokeball was an awesome exclusive outfit for your character we wouldn’t even be having this discussion right now.

I mean could you imagine the kind of backlash if someone like EA put out a beloved franchise with a long history of fandom behind it, and then locked some of the biggest characters of that franchise that affected play between other players behind paywalls?

Wait a tick, that is exactly what happened with Star Wars Battlefront II. Yet you saw very few defenders there, instead the internet rightly was very vocal and for a change of pace voted with their wallets as well, giving EA a black eye in the only place that counts for a company—their checkbooks. They removed the system, backed up, fell over themselves apologizing, and rightly so. Now of course there were people that took this too far as there always is, but the people that made rational discourse about the change and explained why it was unfair had the right of it.

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So why is nothing being said for this blatant cash grab? One word: Nintendo. That is the only difference, and it is an unfair one.

I spoke about this with a group of individuals and one person tried to whitewash it all as outrage culture, but that isn’t it at all. I own Let’s Go Pikachu, I’m having a good time with it actually, and while I’m bummed I can’t get Mew without splashing out $50 on a controller I don’t want I’m not ready to burn the internet down about it.

I am however willing to have a conversation about it, and at least point it out. So many Nintendo fans, and retro gamers especially, have a propensity to rail against DLC and season pass content. Before Nintendo started doing DLC it was a constant thing they would point out, that their beloved Nintendo just gave them a proper finished game, and would never stoop to these DLC practices. When they did start offering DLC (which I think there is nothing wrong with by the way when done correctly) there was nothing but crickets on the other side of the fence.

The thing that frustrates me most is that whether or not you love their games, people need to realize first and foremost that these are companies. They don’t love you, they don’t have warm fuzzies for you, and at the end of the day they are out to make money. Sure, developers are filled with kind, creative, passionate people that just want to make the best art they can, but then those games are sold in one of the biggest money making forms of entertainment out there and are employing ever more greedy tactics to get the most out of every dollar.

It is our responsibility, not just as writers on a gaming blog, but as gamers to point out these anti-consumer practices and vote against them—if not with our wallets than with our feedback. To let something so egregious as this go in sheer silence isn’t standing up against outrage culture, it is unfairly treating one company different from another, and letting Nintendo skate with some really bad business practices.

I love Nintendo, which is why I know they can do better. With so many other companies out there doing this right I don’t know how they could fumble this badly, and really can’t understand why anybody would defend the decision.

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9 thoughts on “Pokemon Let’s Go’s Pokeball Controller – An Exercise in Corporate Greed

  1. You are so right about the double standard of Nintendo. My best guess is people have so much childhood nostalgia for the company that they refuse to think Nintendo is anything other than rainbows and sunshine. Ultimately, however, Nintendo takes advantage of that nostalgia. You get Mew through expensive accessories, they killed off the virtual console and force you to pay for their online service or buy their mini collections to play those games, and their games rarely go on sale because they have no competition that forces them to do so. They’re smart businessmen over there, and they know they can do these things because no one will ever criticize them for it.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. The funny thing is, this isn’t even the first time Nintendo have done this. They’ve, on more than one occasion, included DLC for games with specific amiibos. Look at the Twilight Princess bonus dungeon tied to the Modna amiibo. I don’t know how they get away with it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hey, I have a pretty long post I wrote as a response to this. Here if you want to read it: https://jackhislop.home.blog/2018/11/28/why-the-pokemon-lets-go-mew-isnt-the-rip-off-that-it-seems/ It’s kind of my justification for why they did this, and explaining how it’s really no more offensive than the greedy business practices they’ve done regarding the Pokémon franchise for years. I certainly don’t like it, but it’s nothing that shocking or out of left field for the company to do.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hardcore Nintendo fan here, and am in complete agreement. Dismissing this as outrage culture is shortsighted, and would be ignorant to the fact there is a worrying trend in which AAA games hinder progression with microtransaction paywalls, continue releasing multiple DLC packs loaded with tempting achievements for completionists, and so on. The Poké Ball Plus is 100% aimed at nostalgic fans, and to lock a character (that’s required to catch ’em all as opposed to optional accessories etc) behind it is just flat out unfair

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I did get my share of outrage culture claims on this, but judging from my other articles I’ve never courted outrage before. I just feel that Nintendo should get called out also is all. Still a hardcore Nintendo guy, but this was certainly skeevy.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. They’ve done this since the very beginning by forcing you to buy two copies of the game in order to actually complete it! Not all of us had friends with Gameboys…

    Liked by 1 person

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