I’ve repeatedly heard the sentiment that if Nintendo didn’t want us to cheat, they wouldn’t have made certain Pokémon so hard to get.
Cheating has long been an ethical dilemma among gamers, though among game makers, the matter is pretty clear. But if only there were some way that game makers could make their stance clear…
…Oh, hold on. Yet another one is doing just that.
The Pokémon Company has just announced its plans to roll out bans for those who used “altered data”. These bans would impact Pokémon Sword, Pokémon Shield, and Pokémon Home. These bans would be either temporary or permanent, and no refunds would be issued in the instances in which violators were using paid services.
What I can say about this is, it’s about time. Pokémon was already the single highest-grossing intellectual property of all time, and with it, there’s a huge competitive community. There are yearly competitions, some of which live-streamed, to audiences all over the world.
If The Pokémon Company wants their games to be taken seriously as a competitive e-sport (as much as one could take such a thing seriously), they cannot allow cheaters to continue to run about unchecked.
This is an especially serious issue for Pokémon Home, elements of which are renewable paid services. Particularly impacted would be the GTS (Global Trade System), the economy of which is driven by the rarity of certain Pokémon. If players could duplicate rare Pokémon at will, their rarity becomes diminished in a sense comparable to over-inflation, and any incentive to use the paid service for long becomes effectively diminished.
As it has been, Pokémon Home’s GTS feature is like a game of hot potato, where players pass around an obvious hack until they get something they’re willing to settle for, in exchange for the legit Pokémon that they deposited to begin with. Somehow, I doubt that that was the kind of experience Nintendo had in mind when publishing Pokémon Home.
But now they want to do something about it? It’s about time. In fact, they could have done something about it a lot sooner. Because in doing so, they’d be enforcing their own Terms of Service. You know, the rules of the game that people are paying to play and use Nintendo online services for?
But if banning a bunch of kids will make them cry because it turns out that there are consequences to cheating, then maybe Nintendo is going to be the ones teaching them the lessons that their parents aren’t.
And maybe the games will become a lot more fun once the field is thinned out by banning those with no regard for the spirit of the game.