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Monday, September 20, 2021

Pokémon Trading Card Game Online → Pokémon "Trading" Card Game Live

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - TCGO to TCGL...and exploring my personal stake in the matter.

For the past decade and a half, The Pokémon Company International (TPCi) has operated Pokémon Trading Card Game Online, henceforth referred to as TCGO. Originally in early 2011, it was in beta as a web-based application. I was one of the very original beta testers, and this was back when Black & White Reshiram and Zekrom were the scariest metagame threats... and before it relaunched out of beta (and into a desktop downloadable offering with tablet support too), I was their beta test case for a permanent account ban. It was very glitchy.

People often ask me why I got banned, and you can imagine me with my sharp wit and polarising personality among... little kids who complained often, especially because they're too underdeveloped to think properly and were very entitled and didn't understand the game was a beta and not in a final state.

Anyway, the trading card game is all of the rage right now, so its online simulator version must be, too? As a result, TPCi today has revealed the successor to TCGO... and announced that TCGO will be sunset in the near future. It's to be called Pokémon Trading Card Game Live, it will be available on desktop and mobile (but not a game console), and here is a very short trailer:

There's not much to get out of that trailer other than that this is clearly built for mobile-first, given the poor use of screen space on the desktop view. Well, that and TCGL's new 3D customisable avatars are hideous and not like the ugly (but in a different way) 2D customisable avatars of TCGO. (I prefer the 2D ones, big-league.)

TPCi is working with a new developer: rather than Dire Wolf Digital, they're working with... apparently an in-house development team. Dire Wolf Digital will continue to support the code cards found in physical TCG products. Anyway, there is a bunch of information you should know about migrating over (which is apparently an automatic process), if you haven't been banned from TCGO yet. You...

  • Cannot migrate TCGO avatars or avatar-related items to TCGL
  • Cannot migrate your TCGO friend list to TCGL
  • Cannot migrate HeartGold & SoulSilver / Call of Legends cards or their unopened booster packs
  • Cannot migrate any unopened products, actually
  • Cannot migrate your TCGO currency
  • Cannot migrate your created decks
  • Cannot migrate more than four copies of a unique card, more than one copy of an ACE SPEC or Prism Star card, more than one copy of each part of a Pokémon V-UNION card, and more than 59 copies of a basic Energy card
  • Cannot migrate your banned accounts... oh.

But you can migrate your Black & White, XY, Sun & Moon, and Sword & Shield series content... but not unopened booster packs. Those will be converted into TCGL currency... with a limit of 6,200 Crystals awarded if you have 125 or more unopened items. At launch, TCGL will not be able to support Black & White, XY, and some Sun & Moon series cards, but it will eventually.

Unlike TCGO, you will not be able to trade cards with other players in TCGL, which makes one wonder what the T is supposed to stand for. There will also not be an integrated chat feature.

Pokémon Trading Card Game Online forum banned message
The screenshot may be a little old (see the page header), but this is the same message I get today.

Since you can't migrate a banned account, I should try to see if I can get unbanned. So I contacted support and got responses:

“Since TCGO is sunsetting, what will happen to the TCG forum?
Will it sunset as well?

In addition, will I continue to be permanently banned from it?

“Hello Ludwig,

Thank you for contacting Pokémon Support! We are unable to provide information for anything that has not been publicly announced.

In general, it's a good idea to keep an eye on the Pokémon website for most announcements.

For App availability, we recommend keeping an eye on the app store for your device for future updates.

For in-app updates, we recommend keeping an eye on the app as most will have announcements in the app itself regarding any updates.

Thank you for playing Pokémon!

The Pokémon Company International Support Team”

“Hello Agent Cora,

If you cannot talk about the forum because it hasn't been announced yet, then could I be unbanned from the still-existing forum/TCGO now?


“Hello Ludwig,

Thank you for contacting Pokémon Support!

We are not able to remove an existing forum ban at this time. Feel free to contact us again if you have other questions.

Thank you for playing Pokémon!

Agent Juno
The Pokémon Company International Support Team”

I find Agent Juno's choice of wording to be very interesting... they are not able to remove the ban? That's not a matter of them having a policy that I should still be banned ten years later, but they're actually unable to remove the ban for some... technological reason? And at this time? Were they able to before but they need to keep things static for their migration? Does this tie into no banned accounts allowed to migrate? Because you can still change your booster pack from unopened to opened to migrate the cards inside... surely you can change my ban status from banned to unbanned.

I guess a permanent ban really is permanent for these people. And to be totally fair to them, I haven't changed at all. And if you're wondering why I participated in the beta to begin with, I saw it as a sequel to Nintendo of America's Nintendo NSider Forums, since it was a Nintendo-affiliated forum that was ran by the official company. And they used to have a General Discussion board where you could discuss anything. We quickly behaved in a way where that got removed, however. And thus Miiverse was the true NSider sequel...

If you're wondering how the forum-goers are responding to TCGL's existence... well, it's very negative, with thread topics like Trash by Cubchoo103 where people are thinking that, unlike TCGO's purpose as a TCG simulator, TCGL's purpose will be as a money-grinding pay-to-win experience like other mobile card games. (Of course, any trading card game is already like that, but they see the lack of trading to try to bypass that fact as clear evidence of the intent.)

Since TPCi insists that Ludwig should stay banned, he has no stake in TCGL's success or even to keep writing information about it. There are plenty of unknowns about TCGL that will be revealed in the future, but you may wish to go to sources outside of KoopaTV to hear about those.

As of mid-2022, Pokémon TCGL continues to not exist in public form, but TCGO's forum was transitioned into a new community site that Ludwig isn't banned from.

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