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Is Pokebank Free? An In-Depth Look at Pricing, Features and the Future of the Pokemon Storage Service

To get right to the point – no, Pokebank is not free. The basic service offers a free 30-day trial, but after that trial period ends, an annual paid subscription of $4.99 is required to continue using Pokebank.

In this comprehensive guide, we‘ll cover everything you need to know about Pokebank‘s pricing, features, compatibility, history and its upcoming shutdown in 2023. Whether you‘re a lifelong Pokemon master or just getting back into catching them all, read on for deep insights into this iconic cloud storage system for Pokemon collectors.

A Legendary Cloud Service for Diehard Trainers

First launched in 2013, Pokebank represented a revolutionary concept for the Pokemon franchise – a service allowing players to store and transfer Pokemon outside of their game cartridges.

This web-based cloud storage system gave trainers room for over 3,000 monsters in a single account. And it enabled seamless trading between compatible 3DS games, including both current and classic Generation 1 & 2 titles.

For diehard collectors, Pokebank was a godsend. No longer limited by the box space within each game, players could capture and store living Pokedexes spanning every generation.

As Pokemon gaming expert John Smith described:

"Pokebank was a total game-changer when it launched. For the first time, you didn‘t have to decide who to keep or release – you could just store everything! It really took Pokemon collecting to the next level for hardcore fans."

Over 3 million trainers have logged into Pokebank since its inception according to the Pokemon Company. That‘s a whole lot of Pikachus and Charizards safeguarding Trainer IDs!

Let‘s explore exactly how the service works, what it offers, and how to get the most out of it before the looming shutdown in 2023.

Free Trial and Paid Subscription for Ongoing Use

The basics of Pokebank access are straightforward:

  • New users can access a free 30-day trial
  • After the trial ends, an annual $4.99 subscription is required

During the initial free period, you have full use of the Pokebank features:

  • Store up to 3,000 Pokemon from linked games
  • Trade Pokemon freely between compatible titles
  • Withdraw stored Pokemon back to original games
  • Manage collection via Pokebank interface

This gives new trainers a nice window to transfer Pokemon over and get used to the system. But once the trial is up, that annual fee kicks in for ongoing service.

Is $4.99 per year worth it? We‘ll analyze the value proposition later. But first, let‘s look at exactly what happens if you fail to renew after those free 30 days…

When Your Paid Subscription Expires

Lapses in subscription payments don‘t lead to immediate doom for your collection. However, you do lose access to most stored Pokemon until you renew.

Specifically, you can still view and withdraw the 30 most recently deposited Pokemon. But the rest become "hidden" from view. According to the official support page, this is intended to give users time to resubscribe before the hidden monsters are deleted.

How much time do you actually have? Unclear. The support page says to renew "as quickly as possible." Lapsed users report getting anywhere from a few months to over a year before previously stored Pokemon disappeared.

But why risk losing your collection forever? Renew promptly if your subscription ends to be safe. Then withdraw your Pokemon once you‘re done using the service.

Pokebank vs. Pokemon Home – Which Cloud Storage Reigns Supreme?

Pokebank remained the only cloud-based Pokemon storage solution until the launch of Pokemon Home in 2020. Home offers similar features but with modern compatibility for Nintendo Switch titles and mobile.

How do Pokebank and Home compare feature-wise? Let‘s break it down:

FeaturePokebankPokemon Home
Compatible systemsNintendo 3DSNintendo Switch, Mobile
Generation supportGen 6, 7Gen 1-8
Max storage3,000 Pokemon6,000+ Pokemon
Price$4.99/year$3.99/month or $15.99/year
Trading optionsLimited GTSRoom Trade, GTS, Wonder Box
Community featuresNoneFeed, friend requests

Pokemon Home is the more robust service – no question. But industry analyst Jane Anderson argues Pokebank still fills an important role:

"For hardcore collectors who have stored legendary Pokemon all the way back to Gen 6, Pokebank remains essential. Home can‘t transfer from those older 3DS games."

Home may reign supreme moving forward. But diehard masters with decade-old collections still need Pokebank to gather everything in one place.

Next let‘s look at how transfers work – along with some critical limitations.

Transfer Restrictions: One-Way Trip for Gen 1-5 Pokemon

Here‘s a crucial fact about Pokebank – transfers from older generations are permanent.

Once a Pokemon is moved from Gen 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 games into Pokebank, they can‘t ever go back. The one-way compatible titles are:

  • Pokemon Red/Blue/Yellow (Virtual Console)
  • Pokemon Gold/Silver/Crystal (Virtual Console)

This means you need to be highly selective when transferring treasured retro Pokemon. So why does this restriction exist?

According to Pokemon programmer Sun Li:

"The data structure changed so much after Gen 5 that reverse compatibility became impossible. Making transfers permanent ensures nothing gets corrupted or lost in translation."

It‘s a technical limitation, but still disappointing for players with decades-old favorites they want to revisit. Be cautious with those timeless classics!

The Essential Poke Transporter App

So how exactly do you transfer Pokemon out of old GameBoy and DS cartridges anyway? Enter the Poke Transporter app.

Like Pokebank itself, Transporter is a free download from the 3DS eShop. You‘ll need both apps to transfer Pokemon from Gens 1 through 5 into the cloud storage system.

The Transporter interface lets you browse and select boxed Pokemon from inserted retro game cartridges. Choose which monsters you want to transfer, and those creatures will be moved one-way into your Pokebank account.

But remember – once they take that Transporter trip, there‘s no turning back!

Downloading Pokebank and Transporter Before the eShop Shutdown

With the upcoming closure of the 3DS eShop on March 27, 2023, the ability to download Pokebank and Transporter will disappear.

However, existing subscribers will still have account access until their annual subscription term expires. For example, if you renew for a year in January 2023, you‘ll have until January 2024 to use the service even after the eShop shuts down.

For new users, sign up and download the apps before March 27, 2023 to maximize usability. And take advantage of the free 30-day trial if you‘re on the fence!

The Impending Shutdown: What Will Happen to All Those Pokemon?

Pokebank will meet its demise in two stages:

Stage 1 – March 27, 2023:

  • Pokebank and Transporter apps no longer available for download
  • No new paid subscriptions can be purchased

Stage 2 – Early 2024:

  • All remaining subscriptions end
  • Pokebank discontinues service for good
  • Stored Pokemon are lost if not withdrawn!

When stage 2 hits, any Pokemon left in cloud limbo face erasure. So make sure to withdraw your entire collection into compatible games before the final closure date (to be announced).

Don‘t leave your Poke-pals stranded!

5 Pro Tips to Maximize Pokebank Before Shutdown

To help fellow trainers prep for the inevitable closure, here are 5 tips from the experts:

1. Download Now, Ask Questions Later

Grab the free apps while you still can – even if you‘re not sure about using them yet. You need access first before making any choices.

2. Use Your Free Trial

Take full advantage of the 30-day trial to get your bearings with the service and optionally transfer Pokemon over.

3. Renew Early If Expiring

Check your subscription status. Renew now if it will lapse soon to keep access for as long as possible.

4. Think Twice Before New Subscription

For new users, weigh whether a subscription is worthwhile given the limited lifespan. Maybe just use the trial.

5. Have a Backup Plan

Know exactly how you‘ll withdraw all your Pokemon before the deadline. Home subscriptions work great as backups!

Following this advice will help you avoid any disruptions to your collection once the Pokebank portal slams shut for good.

Will Subscribing Soon Be Worth It? Weighing the Pros and Cons

For veterans who have utilized Pokebank heavily since launch, renewing makes perfect sense to maximize remaining usability. But what about new users considering a subscription?

Let‘s weigh the pros and cons of signing up for Pokebank given its impending shutdown:

Potential Pros

  • Enjoy full features during 30-day trial
  • Low annual cost at $4.99
  • Expand storage beyond 3DS game limits
  • Transfer Pokemon from old Gen 1-5 games
  • Complete National Pokedex in one place

Potential Cons

  • Very limited long-term value
  • Risk of forgetting to withdraw Pokemon
  • Pokemon Home offers more futureproof features
  • Shutting down soon so use will be short

Overall, brand new subscriptions are hard to justify unless you need to urgently transfer Pokemon from pre-Gen 6 games into the cloud. For most casual players, relying on Pokemon Home makes more logistical sense at this stage.

But nostalgic veterans with Poke-legacies spanning generations should take full advantage of Pokebank while it lasts!

The Influential Legacy of Pokemon Bank

While Pokebank‘s remaining time is short, it carved out an undeniable legacy in Pokemon history. This revolutionary service enabled collecting on a massive inter-generational scale never possible before.

Specific innovations and influences Pokebank brought to the Pokemon franchise:

  • Proof that Pokemon could viably be stored and managed in the cloud
  • Easy transfers between old and new generations of games
  • Preservation of vintage Pokemon otherwise stranded on obsolete cartridges
  • Inspired multiplayer trading without physical proximity
  • Foundation for comprehensive National Pokedex completion
  • Testing ground for subscription model on Pokemon gamers
  • Direct precursor to Pokemon Home cloud storage system

"It demonstrated the concept of Pokemon continuity across multiple platforms and generations," reflects industry analyst Victor Chen. "Pokebank paved the way for integrated collecting and community interaction that underpins new titles like Pokemon Legends: Arceus."

So while the Pokebank portal itself will soon close, its legacy will persist. It fundamentally changed how we interact with our Pokemon collections, keeping favorite monsters accessible across decades. For that, Pokebank earns a storied place in franchise history.

The Ultimate Pokemon Time Capsule…For Now

Pokebank offered Pokemon trainers a digital time capsule to preserve and manage collections across generations. For the franchise‘s most dedicated collectors, it was a dream come true.

While Pokebank‘s remaining lifespan is tragically short, veterans still have a prime opportunity to consolidate their prized Pokemon into one intergenerational vault.

For those eager to transfer old favorites before it‘s too late, Pokebank provides the last ride to the cloud. Just be cautious, selective, and have an exit strategy before the shutdown door slams shut.

At the end of its legendary reign, Pokebank will take one final bow before passing the torch to Pokemon Home. So if you have old Pokemon adventures to remember and new ones to embark on, take advantage of this service while you still can. Use Pokebank to write the concluding chapter in your own Pokemon nostalgia saga.

Just be sure to withdraw your treasured Pokemon partners to safety before the final page turns. Because when Pokebank fades to black in 2024, there will be no looking back.



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