The “Pokémon Sword” and “Shield” games are getting new adventures, cuddly creatures and rivals to battle. But Nintendo isn’t adding the content for free, and some fans are upset about the cost.
Fans will have to pony up $29.99 for an expansion pass. That’s in addition to $60 for each original game and an online subscription service that costs $19.99 per year.
Pokémon enthusiasts who want both “Sword” and “Shield” expansions will have to pay about $60 in total. New content is coming in June, and more will be added in the fall.
“It’s a pretty steep price for a full Pokémon experience,” Kori Selnes, 29, a Twitch streamer in Norway who has played Pokémon games for more than 20 years, including “Sword” and “Shield.” She told CNN Business that she “used to love the franchise to bits, but the direction it’s going now makes me not want to support the companies involved anymore.”
Game Freak, which co-owns Pokémon with Nintendo, said in a Thursday announcement that it was the first time Pokémon games were getting a digital expansion instead of being released as standalone games. It’s a new strategy for the franchise, although it has already been adopted throughout the video game industry. For example, Nintendo itself has sold expansions for the games “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” for $20 and “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate” for $5.99.
“The console games market is continually moving away from being a hits driven business that used to focus on the ‘fire and forget’ model of shipping a new game every year or two, to one that offers a long term service for a single game,” said Daniel Ahmad, a senior analyst at Niko Partners who covers the Asian video games market.
While the Pokémon expansion will feature new regions, characters and more than 200 additional Pokémon, including legendary creatures, some fans complained that Thursday’s announcement video on YouTube was thin on story details. More than 80,000 people tuned in to watch.
Dozens of gamers commented on YouTube that they would “go broke” or that their wallets were “crying.” Others spammed the thumbs down emoji.
Last year, fans of the game were outraged that not all the Pokémon would be included in the new games. And after the games were released, many noted that the animations and gameplay appeared cheap and overly simplistic.
Some gamers said Game Freak hasn’t done enough to convince them to pre-order the expansion.
“It’s a major corporation trying to make as much money as possible with as little effort as possible. I’m just voting with my wallet, trying to convince others to do the same,” said Jacob Hands, 21, from central Illinois, a FedEx package handler who has played Pokemon for more than 10 years.
Nintendo, the Pokemon Company and Game Freak did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Still, some veteran gamers like the new updates.
“This might be an unpopular opinion, but I think the price of the expansion is fair considering the extra content and story,” said 26-year-old Australian Shisir Lama, who’s known on Twitch as AuSLove. “I was never outraged to begin with and being outraged does not help anyone.”
Technically, those who have already purchased the games can still obtain the 200 new Pokémon through digital updates that will arrive at no additional cost. But they’ll need to find players who have bought the expansion and trade with them.
“By no means am I mad at it. In fact, it seems kind of genius,” said Austin John, 31, of New Jersey, a longtime Pokémon fan who makes YouTube videos of the franchise. “There are going to be some people who are mad that it still doesn’t have all the Pokémon, but some people will always be mad.”
Nintendo also announced Thursday that the 15-year-old “Pokémon Mystery Dungeon,” a Gameboy Advance title, is being remade for the Switch and will be released March 6. The company gave a February release date for Pokémon Home, a cloud solution for franchise fans to connect all their critters from past games.