We have has already addressed many of the serious issues with The Pokémon Company’s new release Pokemon TCG Livethe replacement of the decade old digital way of playing the card fighter, pokemon tcg online. But there’s another aspect that remains underexposed, and amazingly it’s not a bug: they’ve halved the number of digital cards you receive from your code cards. And address Kotakuhave claimed this is “optimal” for players!
I made the incredibly bad decision to migrate my account PTCGO until PTCGL, I have a teetering pile of regrets. Although ultimately the change is inevitable for everyone—Online should be turned off as soon as possible Live comes out of beta – it’s a great idea to delay it for so many reasons. First, as clumsy as Online could be, it’s not buggy to hell. Second, as a game with “Trading” in the title, the replacement removes all aspects of trading. Third, migrating will destroy any card you have more than four without compensation. Fourth… yes, you get the point.
But when I noticed that code card redemptions only saw five cards come out of the digital pack, I assumed something had gone terribly wrong with the software. For the last decade, every Pokemon TCG product came with an extra piece of cardboard with a series of letters and numbers and a QR code. These have unlocked a digital equivalent of the pack or item you purchased and made it available for online use. From booster packs to deck boxes to coins to sleeves, it’s been a nice bonus, allowing the excellent card fighting game to be played without having to meet in real life. And in each of those booster packs you have to unlock ten cards for the online game.
The online booster packs worked similarly to the IRL packs. You have an Energy, a bunch of common and unusual Pokémon and Trainers, then a reverse hollow (or if you’re lucky, alt-art, Trainer Gallery, etc.) and a weird one. It made sense and felt eminently fair.
Now, depending on which version of the software you’re using, you’ll either get the full ten, or go all the way with half. It really sucks, and after contacting The Pokémon Company (TPC), Kotaku has learned that it is completely intentional.
“For regular Pokémon TCG expansions like Sword & Shield [and] Silver Tempest, each code card is designed to yield five cards in Pokémon TCG Live,” TPC told us, “which helps to reduce the rate at which non-foil common and unusual cards are acquired.”
This is the strangest way to promote their own product, suggesting that receive fewer of it for your money is beneficial to their customers. And of course, yes, no one needed the 79 Burmy cards they built up PTCGO, but at the same time they had paid for it. It doesn’t matter that someone trying to complete a collection is looking for an unusual one that they happened to have missed, and the chances of which are now more than halved.
Read more: The 10 best Pokemon TCG Cards to draw from Silver Tempest
However, there is an (imaginary) economic reason for the decision that does not benefit players in any way. Because PTCGL has been drowned in so many overlapping and confusing in-game currencies, it’s become a difficult balancing act for TPC to manage. One of these currencies is Credits, and they can be spent to buy each card from any collection a player desires. So yes, if you want, you can just get those alt-art Lost Origin Giratina, or the Evolving Skies moon-loving Umbreon cards that can cost you $500 in real life. Credits are earned by winning games and completing Battle Pass tasks, as well as getting more than four of any card. Because Live don’t let you have more than four, if you draw one more it will be converted into Credits. And it seems they’ve realized that if they let you get all the bulk out of your code cards, you’d be getting “too much” Credits. And this is not my conspiratorial thinking: TPC itself said to us:
During the development of the game, we found that 10-card booster packs in Pokémon TCG Live often resulted in more duplicates of non-foil common and unusual cards. Once the maximum number of copies of a card type is reached, duplicates are converted into Credits that can be exchanged for any card that a player does not already have in their collection (up to the maximum number of copies allowed). This issue was addressed with five-card booster packs, which further balanced the in-game economy and contributed to a more optimal player experience.
That is, they created a new in-game economy that didn’t work very well, so they halved the number of cards you received to fix their mistake. Why are you limited to four of each card? I don’t know – you can only play four of one type in a battle deck, of course, but it does not benefit anyone in terms of imbalance them. But because you’re tough, and it breaks their new system if you don’t, you lose half your features. It’s more “optimal” for you.
Enter those codes though PTCGOand you’ll still get all ten, as long as that software is allowed to exist.
This doesn’t even get into how disappointing the package opening process is Live as compared to Online. You used to scan codes and create a collection for later. There you saw an image of the packs, you could click on any card whenever you wanted, “tear” them open and see all ten cards appear, all the rares turned over so you could reveal them. It was a wonderful experience. Now when you scan a code, you are forced to open the five cards immediately, without ceremony and without the feeling of opening a pack. All absolutely mind blow design decisions.
In better news, TPC confirmed for us that despite the terribly IAP friendly new Crystals currency, there are no plans to allow players to spend real money. “Pokemon TCG Live will remain a free-to-play game with no in-app purchases, making it accessible to all types of players.”