The following article intents to raise some concerns about the status quo as shaped by the release of Pokémon Diamond & Pearl in North America.
Okay, things are not that tragic as implied by the title but it sounds catchy, doesn’t it?
The games have sold more than 5 million copies in Japan and a bit more than 1 million were sold in North America in less than a week. Australia is getting the game soon while Europe is still waiting for a release date.
Nintendo WiFi works indeed as intended by the game designers; or not? Players from all over the world trade Pokémon with friends far away or even with complete strangers thanks to the GTS. Many internet-proficient players exchange Friend Codes in message boards or chatrooms, set up auctions and also arrange specific item/monster trades. High leveled Pokémon, legendaries, shinies and rare items are very high in the stock market as one would expect, but unfortunately the whole thing turned a bit more capitalistic than the designers expected.
Apparently many people abuse the cloning glitch in Pokémon Emerald, which is acceptable to some extent, while many others use the infamous cheating devices (such as Gameshark) or the newly-appeared save game editors (along with a flash card and an illegal copy of the games). One might say that this happened before and I’ll agree, there have been sharkers and cheaters in every Generation; scarce though. However the internet has no borders or physical limits; a sharker can supply dozens of people with elusive yet hacked Pokémon in GTS and get other high priced ones in return. There are players that have completed the National Pokédex in a matter of days what good is that however if they skipped the whole game? The voice of reason says “Why’d you care about what they do? Don’t trade with them.” but I can really see that leading the serious players to form isolated communities. A serious, devoted player, may occasionally use a cheating device for a variety of reasons, limited free time being the most common of them but they will never abuse it. I am not implying that only hardcore games should have rare or strong Pokémon, everyone can get one for themselves with a little effort and that justifies the term trade; every sacrifice made is balanced by the subsequent gain and that’s what the game designers also envisioned.
Whose fault is it when players seek Pokémon that are as of yet unavailable? Should we blame the people that reverse-engineered the games and let the fans know of Arceus or Sheymin before Nintendo’s word? Should we blame the profit-seeking companies that manufacture generic cheating devices? Should we blame the programmers that created tools such as PokeSav without thinking of the consequences? I don’t think so…
“Any lock can be broken or bypassed” as hackers say, but this time things were different: the door was left open. Successful online games like World Of Warcraft have a series of security layers that prevent the cunning players from using cheating devices that would spoil the game’s consistency; people ask for meritocracy and equal chances in the real world and that’s what they also expect from well-designed videogames.
Diamond and Pearl are great games and pack among others a rich storyline, tight gameplay, appealing visuals and are guaranteed to offer countless hours of enjoyment but the designers failed to predict the way things would turn out with the online part of the game. In my opinion they ought to have implemented a way to check the validity of the traded Pokémon…
The influential Pokémon fansites that shape the online Pokémon community are willing to help, take for example the uncoordinated omerta concerning the Emerald cloning glitch but it’s ultimately up to Gamefreak and Nintendo to protect their system for the better good.