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Thursday, January 9, 2020

Pokémon Sword/Shield Expansion Pass: GAME FREAK's Scumbaggery

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Every bad thing they could do, they did!

Today, Nintendo premiered a two-part Pokémon Direct featuring Junichi Masuda and Shigeru Ohmori GAME FREAK, and Ishihara from The Pokémon Company. I'll cover the first topic—Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX—next week (which only lasts about two minutes in the Direct), and the rest of the Direct right now. You can watch the whole thing for yourself here, and read Nintendo's press release here:

The big news is they announced the Pokémon Sword Expansion Pass and Pokémon Shield Expansion Pass for $30 each. The Expansion Pass will get you two expansions: The Isle of Armor (by the end of June 2020) and The Crown Tundra (in the fall of 2020). This is apparently in place of a third enhanced Galar game or a sequel.

I am vehemently against today's news and absolutely livid that GAME FREAK would do this. Allow me to explain why.

First, I'll remind you that I don't own Pokémon Sword or Pokémon Shield, for the reasons I've already outlined in this article. In that article, I wrote:
“If GAME FREAK is going to continue to operate on an annual release schedule, we're going to get a Galarian iteration next year anyway, which'll probably add substantially more content and fix a lot of problems. I'll re-look at the situation then, and of course, KoopaTV will cover the announcement.” 
Well, at this point, it seems to be more like a half-annual release schedule, which certainly isn't promising. While content is being added, they're not fixing any problems, because this is an add-on to a flawed game, as opposed to an enhanced version that fixes the flaws. You could say some of the flaws included lack of a post-game—now you get to buy a post-game for $30 (though according to the press release, it's not a post-game because you can play it as soon as you reach the Wild Area)—and not every Pokémon is returning—they're going to add over 200 Pokémon from previous generations that didn't exist in the game's code before. (Still not everyone, though.) But there's more than that which will never be addressed.

If you think I'm not justified for waiting on the games and not buying them immediately, consider this: GAME FREAK is releasing these expansion passes that give you specifically version-unique content. You thought that researching the version differences between Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield right around release was all you needed to do? No, you needed to have knowledge that GAME FREAK would announce expansion passes two months later, and then have the knowledge to know what the version differences between those would be. Otherwise, you're just guessing and not making an educated decision. In hindsight, the superior option WAS to not buy the game at release.

Want to pick the other version now? Pay up another $90 ($60 base game + $30 expansion pass)!

You can access the Nintendo eShop to buy the Expansion Pass right from the in-game menu. ...Where the advertisement will remain, forever, until you do buy the pass.

Pokémon Sword Shield Expansion Pass menu advertisement Nintendo eShop
You're going to see this Expansion Pass option until you give GAME FREAK $30.

Yes, this is the same problem I complained about from Mario Kart 8's DLC. You get this ugly, very contrasting and space-taking unavoidable advertisement every time you open up the menu, and all because you have your system connected to the Internet to receive an update. I absolutely hate this part perhaps the most of anything I'll write in this article.

But if the constant advertisement isn't bad enough, Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield will give you fear-of-missing-out (FOMO) by having the free update—already sent out—include “a small slice of this expanded world!” Including the new rival character from the expansion (that's version-dependent), and a Galarian Slowpoke, which you have to bring to The Isle of Armor (or if you wait longer, The Crown Tundra) to evolve. Otherwise, you have this useless thing preventing you from having a full Pokédex.

Note: Even if you don't buy the Expansion Pass, you'll still get an updated Pokédex with the over 200+ Pokémon being added. You won't be able to catch them yourself, but you can receive them via trades with people who do have the Expansion Pass. That likely includes the spammed legendary Pokémon in The Crown Tundra, which is as lame as the Ultra Wormholes were for Pokémon Ultra Sun and Pokémon Ultra Moon.

I'm reading a lot of Pokémon fans are excited about this, because they're fools easily scammed by trailers. Those same people would decry, say, when Activision does this kind of extensive and expensive downloadable content for Destiny 2. Reminder that it's the same pair of Junichi Masuda and Shigeru Ohmori that are against incorporating post-games to Pokémon titles due to believing that mobile titles have degraded gamers’ tastes so much, that no one is interested in post-games. ...But I guess Pokémon fans are interested in paying another $30 for what they believe to be a post-game? An extra tax to the hardcore gamer.

I'm not interested in supporting this racket. This whole announcement makes me less interested in buying the game than ever before. I didn't think it was worth $60 before. I certainly don't think it's worth $90. I'm not interested in paying for rushed content, expectations that the customer base is supposed to be able to predict the future, aggressive and pushy advertising, lame attempts to be cool that they already tried just a few years ago, and hypocrisy.

...Oh, and I still don't see the appeal of Wild Area-style gameplay or camera controls.

Ludwig expected the Direct to just be about Pokémon Sleep and Pokémon Home, so it was more significant than his expectations. If you don't like Ludwig writing an article dedicated to his negative thoughts about the Direct, blame the hosts of the Direct, who asked the audience no less than three times “What do you think?” during the Direct. Ludwig welcomes you to answer that question about this article, however.

It turns out that the pricing on Pokémon HOME is pretty bad, too!
That Galarian Slowpoke is evolving into a Galarian Slowbro, which is pretty cool.
Let's talk more about all of those legendary Pokémon...


  1. I think adding new content through an expansion pass is better than what they did in the previous generation (releasing two "upgraded" full games instead of a third version), and for someone like me who normally would get one of the pair and then the third version, this is better than that as well.

    1. Ah, but this time, you're like me and didn't get it at launch...!

    2. What does that change? I'll get one and then get the expansion pack if it looks like it's worth it. I wasn't waiting for a third version.

    3. So you've definitely decided you WILL get one.

    4. I didn't care enough to get it right away at launch, but I do want to play it eventually. I'd hoped to get it as a Christmas present. Now I hope to get it as a birthday present.

    5. ...Does that mean I should get you a present? :x

    6. This comment has been removed by the author.

    7. Nah. :P

      (I mean, you could if you wanted to, but not Pokemon. xDD)

  2. To be honest, I would have been pretty much fine with these expansion packs if they'd cut the price by about $10 and included all of the non Legendary/Mythical/whatever one-off Pokemon in a free update instead. 600, or even nearly 600 mons, to me, is a perfectly reasonable amount of the total possible Pokemon ecology to include in a single game.

    Aside from not even being able to transfer outside mons from other games, of course. But to encounter in the games themselves sure.

    1. Ah, so here's another thing.

      Is GAME FREAK going to put every Pokémon that's in the new Galar Dex on their website, or will fans have to use fan sites to do that? Because they're all like, WELL WITH HOME YOU CAN TRANSFER** YOUR PAST DUDES TO SWORD/SHIELD.

      **"as long as the Pokémon appear in The Isle of Armor and The Crown Tundra expansions."

      Like, are you gonna tell consumers which Pokémon those are, GAME FREAK?

    2. Pretty sure it's a known thing by now either way, at least going by my expert friend.

    3. Oh, no, it's not known who the Pokémon are gonna be in the expansions.


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