Friendly Reminder: Don’t Waste Money on Pokemon GO!

Originally published on Trevor Trove on July 18, 2016

Pokemon GO launched in Canada today. And then spent the next hour or so in server hell, as it has intermittently since launch. So this is your friendly reminder to not waste money on this game. If you want to spend money to buy the Pokecoins, that’s fine and good. I won’t stop you. But don’t waste those coins on items that will potentially be lost as a result of the game’s quite frankly unacceptably buggy state.

People keep pointing to the idea that “well if you look in settings, the game isn’t even to version 1 yet” (sitting at 0.29.2 as I type this) as if that’s an excuse. Sorry. It is not. If you’re going to charge people for a product, you should be held accountable for providing said product. “The game’s not finished” is not a valid excuse if Niantic, Nintendo, and the Pokemon Company are raking in millions of dollars daily on this product.

Of note, in the game’s “Terms of Service” agreement that everyone just glossed over on their race to get their first Bulbasaur, Squirtle, Charmander, or Pikachu, the game lays out, in no uncertain terms that they owe you nothing in the instances where their game crashes result in the lost of your items. Under the section titled “Purchases of Virtual Money and Virtual Goods:”

As set forth below, all Virtual Money, Virtual Goods, and other Content is provided “as is,” without any warranty. You agree that all sales by us to you of Virtual Money and Virtual Goods are final and that we will not permit exchanges or refunds for and unused Virtual Money or Virtual Goods once the transaction has been made.

So if you used that Virtual Money for Pokeballs that you lost trying to catch a Pokemon when the game froze up or you used an Incense or Lucky Egg you paid Virtual Money for and then lost 25 of your 30 minutes because the servers crashed, they don’t owe you anything. This is, of course, the work of their legal team covering their own ass. It would be incredibly poor work on the part of their Customer Service or Marketing Teams to actually stand firm on that so I imagine we will see the occasional “Thanks for playing our game while we work out the kinks” log-in rewards. They’ll try to appease players by awarding them 100 Pokecoins here and there (which would otherwise cost $0.99): not enough to cut into all of the money they can actually make on the product, but enough to whet someone’s appetite and whittle away at a person’s resistance to spending real cash on this free-to-play game.

And that’s what it’s really all about. Using the same tactics as drug-dealers. Giving the player a “taste” and banking on the player then needing to feed that addiction. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Especially when you’ve already spent 20 years indoctrinating the world with the “Gotta catch ’em all!” tagline.

Also as a side note for anyone planning on trying to make a living trading Pokemon for cash when the game eventually introduces trading, that’s against the Terms of Service, as well. Under “Trading:”

The App permits Account holders to capture and trade virtual items, including but not limited to Pokemon characters or creatures (“Trading Items”) during gameplay…Trading Items may be traded with other Account holders for other Trading Items, but Trading Items can never be sold, transferred, or exchanged for Virtual Money, Virtual Goods, “real goods, “real money, or “real services, or any other compensation of consideration from us or anyone else.

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