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Does Pokémon HOME Mean The End for Pokémon Pass? July 18, 2020

Posted by Maniac in Editorials.
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Since the days of offering Mew at Toys ‘R US during the first generation games, there have always been promotional giveaways for Pokémon players tied to going shopping. I love when The Pokémon Company hosts a promotional giveaway. In fact I’ve done countless articles and videos on this site about all the ones I’ve attended. In the more recent era, these promotional events were held at GameStop stores, a game-exclusive retailer who would typically know when they were happening, and successfully distributed promotional items and Mystery Box codes to whoever asked. Then for some reason, The Pokémon Company decided to partner with larger retailers including Target and Wal-Mart for their promotions. To say that this was a failure would be an understatement.

Big stores are big, and it’s much harder to find specific promotions in large stores like Target and Walmart than it is to find them in a store like GameStop. Since Pokémon merchandise can be sold literally anywhere inside a large box retail store (ranging from electronics to toys) it’s a guessing game as to where a Pokémon promotional display could be put up. Also, asking a big box store’s employees about specific promotions the vast majority of their customers would not be aware of is an exercise in pain and futility. Trust me, I speak from experience. As someone who’s had to deal with asking a consistent line of clueless employees about events, I can tell you I am sick to death of receiving weird looks from retail employees who clearly have better things to do than answer my question about promotions their superiors failed to brief them on. For all those reasons, I can’t tell you how frustrating the decision to hold promotions at major retailers were for loyal players. Then Pokémon Pass was released, and it solved all those problems.

Pokémon Pass was everything I could’ve asked for. While it couldn’t help me obtain any physical Pokémon promotional goodies, most of Pokémon’s recent promotions are digital and Pass was able to distribute codes and digital downloads for in-game goodies perfectly. To use Pokémon Pass, all I had to do was install the app on my smartphone, enable GPS, and boot it up while the event was active. As long as it could detect I was physically at the address I was supposed to be, I could obtain the digital promotional code l needed, even if the store hadn’t put up the promotional material and employees weren’t briefed on the events. This was the greatest thing in the freaking world for many reasons. I didn’t have to make searches up and down the large retail stores for a poster or display stand that may or may not have been put up, and I didn’t have to hassle any of the overworked employees who didn’t get briefed about it either. If there was a problem with the codes for any reason, it could even issue me a new one (although there were limits).

Earlier this year, Pokémon HOME was released. This is a badly needed service for players of games like Pokémon Go or Sword/Shield. It’s a cloud-based platform where players can store Pokémon from across multiple Pokémon games. On its surface, HOME seems to include all the features of Pokémon Bank and Pokémon Pass in just one application. The Mystery Gift feature inside Pokémon HOME can use your smart device’s GPS to determine if you’re somewhere a promotional event is happening and award you a gift even if you’re a free user. You would think I would be happy about this, one less application I would need to keep on my phone, but I am not.

As far as I can tell, The Pokémon Company has not used HOME’s method of distribution at this time, but they certainly could start whenever they feel like it. I’m kind of torn about how I feel about this. First off, you have to install Pokémon Home on both your Switch and smart device to obtain a gift through it. That means you can’t currently obtain Mystery Gifts in the Switch version of Home even if you’ve earned one. Second, any Pokémon obtained in Home will stay there unless they get manually transferred to a supported game using the Switch version of the application. This is so much more annoying than simply redeeming a Mystery Gift code in a supported game. I’d rather just put the Pokémon in the game I’m playing, and then transfer it to Pokémon Home later. Home can generate Mystery Gift codes, but only for in-game item distributions and if you’re a free user, Pokémon Home can only hold thirty Pokémon before getting full! Since you absolutely need to transfer Pokémon out of Home as soon as possible anyway, you might as well obtain them in the game.

Here’s my biggest problem with this service, Home’s smart device interface. Unlike Pokémon Pass, Home does not currently give a heads up on the details of upcoming exclusive promotions. Home does have a News feature, but that can get filled with lots of miscellaneous news, including updates for Sword and Shield. With Pass, I could always get a clear heads up when promotions were happening and where I had to go to use them. HOME also doesn’t support photo stickers or digital wallpapers like what is offered in Pass. I really like that feature, and as someone who changes their phone wallpapers regularly (sorry honey), it will mean I’ll need to get that content from other places.

I implore The Pokémon Company to keep supporting Pokémon Pass for the time being. Sadly, since HOME launched, not a single promotion has been offered in Pokémon Pass, although I acknowledge the current worldwide pandemic might be a reason why. Obviously the world is currently in such a state that precludes non-essential travel, but when the world returns to business as usual it would be nice to see more promotions coming for it!

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