So you want to enjoy Pokemon Go to its fullest without spending a dime? Well, get ready for years worth of grinding if you intend to max out your storage, transfer Pokemon to HOME, or purchase necessary items from the shop.
Being a free-to-play mobile app, it’s expected for Pokemon Go to offer various microtransactions. And of course, it offers the staple real money transaction of turning hard-earned dollars into digital premium currency.
Luckily, Niantic has been generous enough to allow players the opportunity to earn this premium currency for free. Trainers who successfully defend a gym for eight and a half hours can earn a total of 50 Pokecoins each day.
In real-money terms, eight hours of work nets players about $0.50, and this pitiful amount of currency is only enough to purchase a single Incense. The issue is that premium currency is almost required to fully enjoy Pokemon Go, but necessary items come at a steep price.
Daunting pricetag of Pokemon Go storage upgrades
When players first start their Pokemon Go adventure, they are granted 300 storage spaces for both Pokemon and items. This might seem like a lot at first, but it doesn’t take long to fill both boxes.
In fact, Niantic recently released an update allowing players to store up to 6,100 Pokemon and 5,100 items. But in order to expand your storage, players have to spend Pokecoins. It’s 200 Pokecoins per upgrade which adds 50 additional storage slots to either Items or Pokemon.
If new players choose to upgrade their storage via free coins, it’ll take them four days to earn a single upgrade. It’s going to cost trainers 23,300 Pokecoins to fully upgrade their Pokemon storage, and another 19,200 to upgrade their storage. In total, that’s 850 eight-and-a-half-hour days of gym defending with zero extracurricular item shop purchases.
Of course, players don’t need to max out their storage, though the grind to get to 1,000+ storage slots – a number most players recommend – will still take several months. For new players who want to skip the constant early game storage micromanaging, there’s a pretty hefty entry fee.
Paying the price to enjoy Pokemon Go
Now players have realized that playing for free isn’t going to offer the same experience as someone who shills out a few bucks to expedite this process of enjoyment. So, how much are they expected to pay upfront?
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Say you want 1,000 Pokemon storage slots giving yourself enough room for the entire Pokedex (pre-Paldea) and a couple hundred extra ‘mons. You’re also going to need about 1,000 item slots to tote around your hundreds of berries, balls, and miscellaneous items. That’s roughly $50 upfront just for storage.
That’s not too bad seeing as it’s cheaper than a new Pokemon game, and some players are lucky enough to live close to or within reach of a few Pokestops. But what about rural players, trainers with disabilities, or child superfans who can’t freely leave their homes?
Incense is always an option, but a devastating nerf earlier this year made it so an incense only spawns a Pokemon every five minutes while stationary resulting in a total of 12 potential spawns per incense. So, players who don’t have access to natural spawns – this number is higher than you’d think – will have to spend a few bucks every time they want to start up their spawns.
For less-fortunate players, gyms and Pokestops become less of an option meaning these trainers will have to pay for items other players have accumulated an abundance of for free. Pokeballs can be bought at 20 for $1. Anytime these players want to raid, that’s another $1. Your Pokemon were defeated in battle? Well, that’ll be $2 to revive them and $2 to heal the wounded.
These little purchases make opening Pokemon Go feel like going over a toll bridge. This free-to-play game needs a huge asterisk next to “free” to warn players of the hidden fees – the cost of actually enjoying the game.
This doesn’t include events like Pokemon Go Fest or Region Tours which are the highlights of the game. Those, along with other random events, will run players about $30 a year, and you can’t purchase event tickets with Pokecoins.
When taking all of this in, it’s hard to recommend Pokemon Go to everyone because it doesn’t accurately reflect the true nature of The Pokemon Franchise. Trainers are better off paying $60 for a mainline game that offers hundreds of hours of playability rather than pulling the cork that is Pokemon Go that slowly drains their piggy bank.