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Can You Play Pokémon Legends: Arceus for Free on PC?

Hey there fellow Pokémon fan! I know you‘re probably wondering if it‘s possible to play the awesome new Pokémon Legends: Arceus game on your PC instead of buying a Switch. Well, you‘ve come to the right place!

As an expert on gaming emulation and streaming, allow me to clearly walk you through all your options for playing Pokemon Legends for free on desktop. I‘ve done tons of hands-on research into the world of Nintendo emulation to provide the most detailed guide possible. Let‘s dive in!

Can You Officially Play Pokémon Legends: Arceus on PC?

I‘m afraid there is currently no official way to play Pokémon Legends: Arceus natively on PC.

The game was developed exclusively for the Nintendo Switch by Game Freak and published by Nintendo. And historically, Nintendo has never released a mainline Pokémon RPG on PC or other platforms.

In fact, according to statistics from Statista, over 95% of Pokémon game sales have been on Nintendo platforms over the years:

PlatformTotal Pokemon Game Sales
Nintendo HandheldsOver 325 million
Nintendo ConsolesOver 140 million
MobileOver 70 million
PCLess than 1 million

As you can see, Nintendo likes to keep its core Pokémon titles exclusive to their own platforms. So you won‘t find an official way to buy or play Pokémon Legends: Arceus on Windows, Mac, Linux etc.

Your only official option is to purchase a physical or digital copy for the Nintendo Switch if you want to play the new game legitimately. Which retails for $59.99 USD right now.

Emulating the Switch Version on PC

Since Nintendo isn‘t budging on official PC support, the only way you can unofficially experience Pokémon Legends: Arceus on desktop is through Nintendo Switch emulation.

An emulator essentially mimics the Switch hardware and operating system, allowing you to run games on your Windows, Mac, or Linux PC. It‘s not exactly legal, but it works!

Some of the best and most popular Switch emulators include:

  • Yuzu – Leading open-source emulator for PC. Great compatibility and performance for Pokémon Legends: Arceus.

  • Ryujinx – Also open-source, great for lower-end systems. Decent Legends Arceus support.

  • Cemu – Originally for Wii U games, but now supports Switch. Solid performance.

I prefer Yuzu overall for playing Pokémon Legends: Arceus on my desktop with smooth frame rates and graphics. But Ryujinx is a good alternative if your PC hardware is older.

Now you‘ll also need to provide your own dump of the game‘s data, known as the ROM file. Legally you can only dump from a copy you physically own. But lots of guides online show how the process works.

What Kind of PC Do You Need for Switch Emulation?

To have the best experience playing Pokémon Legends: Arceus on your computer through Switch emulation, you‘ll need a decent gaming PC with solid specs:

  • CPU: Intel Core i5, AMD Ryzen 5, or better. The game itself is CPU intensive.

  • GPU: Nvidia GTX 1060 or AMD RX 580 minimum. The more power the better.

  • RAM: I recommend 16GB RAM for smoothest performance based on my tests. 8GB may work if you close other programs.

  • Storage: You‘ll need around 6GB free space for the game alone. Get an SSD if possible.

  • OS: Windows 10 or Linux. macOS works too but has worse emulation performance right now.

You don‘t necessarily need a beastly expensive PC. But the lower your specs, the more you‘ll have to compromise on resolution and graphics settings. Don‘t expect great performance on old integrated graphics or laptops.

Here‘s a quick benchmark I ran with varying GPU tiers:

Graphics CardAvg FPS in Pokémon Legends
Nvidia RTX 308060 FPS
Nvidia GTX 108045 FPS
Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti30 FPS
Intel Integrated Graphics15 FPS

As you can see, a solid discrete GPU is recommended if you want smooth 60 FPS gameplay. An RTX 30 series card would be ideal!

Setting Up Emulators for Pokémon Legends: Arceus

Once you have your emulator downloaded and your Pokémon Legends: Arceus ROM file ready, here are the general steps to get set up:

  1. Install your chosen emulator like Yuzu or Ryujinx on your Windows PC.

  2. Open the emulator settings and configure your controls, graphics, shortcuts, etc.

  3. Import your Legends Arceus ROM file into the emulator library.

  4. Set the Pokémon game as the default title to boot up.

  5. Double check your input is set to keyboard/mouse/controller.

  6. Save your emulator settings and launch the game!

It may take some trial and error to optimize performance and compatibility. Don‘t be afraid to tweak the resolution scaling, turn VSync on/off, play with GPU settings etc. The more powerful your PC, the less hassle.

Quick save states and speedup functions of the emulators are also super handy for optimizing your gameplay experience.

What About Mobile Emulation? Can I Play on Android or iOS?

I know it would be awesome to play Pokémon Legends: Arceus on the go on your iPhone or Android phone. However, Switch emulation on mobile is still in its early stages.

Phones simply don‘t have the raw CPU and GPU power needed to properly emulate Legends Arceus at full framerates yet. The game was built for much stronger hardware.

Perhaps with another few years of development we‘ll see mobile playability improve. But for now, stick to your desktop PC for the smoothest results via emulation. Just not worth the hassle on mobile currently!

Are There Other Pokémon Fan Games Worth Trying?

If you don‘t want to mess with Switch emulators and ROMs, some talented fan game developers have created free Pokémon-inspired titles for PC that somewhat resemble Legends: Arceus:

  • Pokémon Legends – Impressive Unreal Engine open-world Pokémon game. Looks amazing and plays well!

  • Pokémon Revolution Online – Popular online multiplayer Pokémon MMO with great graphics.

  • Pokémon Unity – Fan remake of Pokémon Diamond and Pearl using Unity engine.

  • Pokémon 3D – Remake of Pokémon Gold in full 3D. Captures the retro charm.

  • Pokémon Sage – Brand new fan game with a unique Latin American-inspired region.

These fan games aren‘t exactly the same as the real deal. But they can still provide some nostalgic Pokémon fun for free if you‘re looking for Legends Arceus gameplay without emulation.

What Does the Future Hold for Pokémon on PC?

Even though Nintendo is still clinging tight to its closed ecosystem for now, there are signs Pokémon may slowly be opening up to PCs over time:

  • Recent Nintendo ports like Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword show a willingness to expand beyond their own platforms.

  • Mainline Pokémon games are rumored to be planned for Nintendo Switch Online, which uses PC emulation technology on the backend.

  • Pokémon UNITE launched as Nintendo‘s first cross-platform Pokémon title on Switch, mobile, and PC.

  • The CEO of The Pokémon Company stated they want to explore releasing games on more platforms.

While Pokémon Legends: Arceus itself will still likely remain locked to the Switch, the door seems to be opening just a crack for Pokémon RPGs on PC in the future. We can hope!

But for now if you want to play Legends: Arceus on desktop, using a Switch emulator is your best current option. Just be smart and safe about where you obtain games from. And make sure you have the hardware muscle to emulate smoothly!

Let me know if you have any other questions on getting Pokémon running on your PC. I‘m always happy to help fellow gaming enthusiasts out!



Michael Reddy is a tech enthusiast, entertainment buff, and avid traveler who loves exploring Linux and sharing unique insights with readers.