New GTS restrictions fall short of ideal

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Hacked Pokémon can still be offered
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  • Tuesday, July 3, 2007

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This editorial has been written by Argy. It expresses the views of the writer, not necessarily those of Bulbagarden networks.
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This is an editorial by Argy.
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Argy is the former editor in chief of Bulbanews, a style editor at Bulbapedia, and an administrator at Bulbagarden forums.

In the wake of a surge of hacked Pokémon on the Global Trade Station (GTS), Nintendo has apparently tweaked the system to restrict the trade of illegal monsters. However, these restrictions fall short of ideal and may indeed give an advantage to hackers using the network.

Until recently, any Pokémon could be traded on GTS. This created many problems, as hacked Pokémon, if done correctly, could be indistinguishable from legitimate monsters.

Nintendo has changed the rules of GTS. When using the GTS to search for available Pokémon, hacked Pokémon may not be traded in exchange for what is offered. Players have been surprised when, attempting to trade a Pokémon they previously believed to be legitimate, they receive a roadblock message of "That Pokémon may not be offered for trade!"

At first glance, this appears to be a victory for those against hacking. Players offering their legitimate Pokémon will no longer receive unwanted, hacked Pokémon in return. However, the "victory" is a double-edged sword, as hacked Pokémon may still be offered for trade. As the GTS does not give searchers the option of viewing the stats, capture locations and original trainers (OT), of hacked Pokémon, unless a trade seems obviously shady, it is near-impossible to tell if an offered Pokémon is legitimate. I was genuinely surprised when I attempted to trade a Palkia I received in a trade a few weeks ago; I received the roadblock message. According to the summary page, the Palkia has a non-suspicious OT and was captured at Spear Pillar at Lv. 47. However, according to the GTS, the Palkia is hacked.

Some have guessed that the inability to trade such Pokémon is not due to hacked status, but rather legendary status. A similar restriction arose on the online random battle function of Pokémon Battle Revolution; players are now apparently unable to battle with legendary Pokémon, hacked or not. However, responses by Nintendo via e-mail signal that this is due to a "technical difficulty" and should be resolved with two weeks. However, at this point reports are scattered, so it is difficult to come to a conclusion.

The retained ability to offer hacked Pokémon by depositing them in the GTS encourages hackers even more. Hackers now have a guarantee they will receive legitimate Pokémon in exchange for their bootlegs. Obvious hacks, such as the two shiny Mews I saw offered on the system today, can now only be exchanged for legitimate Pokémon. Smart players who are against hacking will simply ignore these, effectively clogging the search function with Pokémon that won't be traded. Those with less knowledge of the GTS system and the prevalence of hacks will end up trading their often-rare, often-cherished, legitimate monsters for cheap knock-offs.

For Nintendo to truly curb the hacking epidemic, it must impose restrictions on the GTS for both methods of trading. Simply disallowing the trade of hacked Pokémon makes little difference if those same Pokémon can be deposited for offer without any obvious indicator of their bootleg status. In any case, Nintendo owes it customers an explanation or at the very least a practical set of guidelines for avoiding hacked Pokémon.