Pokémon Planet is a free-to-play Pokémon MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) that allows players to interact and battle with others online in a Pokémon world. Developed by fans and Pokémon enthusiasts, Pokémon Planet recreates the adventure of the popular Nintendo game series in an online setting.
Overview of Pokémon Planet
Pokémon Planet was first launched in 2014 and has grown substantially over the years. The game can be played directly in a web browser, with no downloads required. Players can explore different Pokémon regions, catch a variety of Pokémon, battle other trainers, trade with friends, and complete their Pokédex.
The core features of Pokémon Planet include:
- Multiplayer interaction – Chat, trade, and battle with players around the world.
- Pokédex tracking – Catch and record up to 722 Pokémon from Generation 1 to 6.
- Gyms and leagues – Take on gym leaders and enter tournaments in the Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh regions.
- Customization – Change your character‘s appearance and decorate your Secret Base.
- Trading economy – Buy and sell items at the player-run markets.
- Quests and achievements – Complete tasks and earn rewards.
While Pokémon Planet is a fan-created game, the developers follow Pokémon canon closely. All the Pokémon, moves, types, abilities, and mechanics adhere accurately to the official games. This allows for an authentic and nostalgic Pokémon experience online.
The Legality of Pokémon Fan Games
Nintendo and The Pokémon Company are famously strict about protecting their intellectual property. This makes developing fan-made Pokémon games a legal gray area. While games like Pokémon Planet do not directly charge money or profit from the Pokémon brand, they could still potentially face legal action.
However, Pokémon Planet has been in operation since 2014 without any interference. The developers ensure they do not infringe on Nintendo‘s rights or distribute any copyrighted assets. Players cannot purchase anything that would give them an advantage over others. This careful approach is likely why the game has avoided being taken down like some other fan projects.
The main reason there are no official Pokémon MMORPGs is likely the difficulty around licensing agreements. An online Pokémon game with monthly subscriptions could be hugely successful, but the brand rights are split between Nintendo, Game Freak, and The Pokémon Company. Coordinating between them to make an MMO would not be feasible currently. That leaves fan games like Pokémon Planet to fill this online niche.
History and Development of Pokémon Planet
Pokémon Planet was created in 2014 by Samuel Henriquez, a developer and owner of the website PokeFans.net. Henriquez had followed the Pokémon series growing up and wanted to recreate the gameplay online.
The initial launch only had the Kanto region available for players to explore. Since then, the Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh regions have been added over time to expand the game world. Custom scripting and sprites were created to make the regions feel as authentic as the offline games.
Here is a timeline of major developments in Pokémon Planet so far:
- 2014 – Pokémon Planet Beta launched with Kanto region
- 2015 – Johto region added, 200,000 user accounts registered
- 2016 – Custom sprites introduced, Hoenn region added
- 2017 – Server upgraded to support more users
- 2018 – Sinnoh region added, Discord community surpasses 60,000 members
- 2019 – League tournament feature introduced
- 2020 – User count exceeds 13 million registered accounts
- 2021 – Kalos region announced as upcoming new addition
The game has grown considerably from a simple beta into a complex MMO experience. Server costs now exceed $2000 a month to maintain because of the expanding playerbase. But revenue comes purely from voluntary donations, keeping the game free-to-play.
Pros and Cons Compared to Main Series Pokémon Games
As a fan project, Pokémon Planet has its own unique advantages and disadvantages compared to the official handheld and console games made by Game Freak.
Some of the major pros of Pokémon Planet include:
- Free – No purchase required, only an internet connection.
- Online multiplayer – Interact with thousands of players around the world.
- Larger world – Explore 4+ regions rather than just 1 per game.
- Persistent progress – Keep all your achievements and Pokémon collected.
- Trading economy – Buy and sell items from other players.
- No cheating/hacking – Legitimate gameplay on fair servers.
However, there are also some downsides:
- Less polish – Graphics, animations, and menus are simpler than modern Pokémon games.
- Potential bugs – More likely to encounter glitches and exploits in a fan game.
- Smaller team – Slower development pace with fewer developers.
- No official support – Lack of customer service compared to Nintendo or The Pokémon Company.
- Risk of takedown – No guarantee the fan project will persist long term.
Overall though, Pokémon Planet provides an authentic and fun Pokémon MMO experience despite its unofficial nature as a fan game. It can serve as a nice free alternative for those seeking an online Pokémon adventure.
Comparing Pokémon Planet to Other Fan Games
Pokémon Planet is not the only Pokémon fan game that exists, but it is one of the most prominent and successful. Other notable fan games include:
- Pokémon Uranium – An original Pokémon game made from scratch, with new Pokémon and region. It was downloaded over 1.5 million times before being taken down.
- Pokémon Revolution Online – Attempted to replicate Pokémon Gold/Silver in a multiplayer online setting. Also received a takedown notice.
- Pokémon Empyrean – Fan project in development that aims to allow playing across all regions in an MMO style.
A major risk with fan games is legal intervention from Nintendo/The Pokémon Company forcing them to shut down. Pokémon Uranium and Pokémon Revolution Online were both taken down after receiving massive popularity and media coverage.
Pokémon Planet has managed to avoid this fate so far by maintaining a lower profile and ensuring the game stays non-profit. While empyrean looks very promising, it remains at risk of being shuttered before completion.
The creators of Pokémon Planet have so far succeeded in balancing fan passion for the game while respecting the IP rights of Pokémon. This has allowed it to thrive for over 8 years now.
Tips for New Players Starting on Pokémon Planet
For those just beginning their adventures on Pokémon Planet, here are some useful tips to help you out:
Pick Charmander, Bulbasaur or Squirtle – The Kanto starters are versatile beginner Pokémon that can beat the first three gyms.
Remember to save often – Pokémon Planet autosaves, but manually saving in the menu ensures you don‘t lose progress.
Increase Pokémon friendship – Keep Pokémon in your party to boost friendship and enable evolutions.
Train against wild Pokémon – Battling wild Pokémon helps gain EXP and level up.
Learn type advantages – Know which types are strong and weak against others.
Join a guild – Become part of guilds to make friends and participate in guild wars.
Sell extra items – Earn money at the markets by selling extra Pokéballs, potions, or TMs.
Participate in events – Special events will have rare Pokémon appearances or free items.
Have multiple Pokémon – Try to maintain a full party of six to handle any battle situation.
Taking the time to train, trade, and build up your Pokémon collection will help you progress through all the gym battles and ultimately the Pokémon League tournament.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are answers to some common questions players may have about Pokémon Planet:
Is it really 100% free?
Yes, absolutely nothing is pay-to-win. No purchases provide any gameplay advantages.
Is my account secure?
User accounts are protected and there are no known security breaches. Enable 2FA for added safety.
How do the regions connect?
Each region has its own Pokémon League. You can travel between them by train or boat.
Can I catch legendaries?
Yes, after defeating the Pokémon League, but they are extremely rare.
Will my Pokémon ever be deleted?
No, your account and Pokémon are saved forever unless deletion is requested.
Are there discounts for donators?
Donators get special avatar icons but no actual gameplay bonuses. Everything is skill-based.
Future Development and Regions
Pokémon Planet has gradually expanded over the years with new regions, features, and updates. Currently, the Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh regions are fully playable.
The next major update planned is the addition of the Kalos region from Pokémon X and Y. Kalos has been announced but has no set release date yet. The developers regularly post project updates on their Discord server.
Potential future regions that may come to Pokémon Planet include:
- Unova (Pokémon Black and White)
- Alola (Pokémon Sun and Moon)
- Galar (Pokémon Sword and Shield)
Along with new regions, players can expect continued improvements to existing features, mechanics, mini-games, and graphics. The community is very involved in providing feedback for updates.
Pokémon Planet offers a unique opportunity for Pokémon fans to play an MMO version of the iconic monster-catching game for free in their browser. Despite some limitations as a fan project, the game provides an authentic and surprisingly complete Pokémon multiplayer experience.
Developed over almost a decade by Pokémon enthusiasts, Pokémon Planet shows the passion of the fan community in building a high quality online Pokémon world. With regular updates still rolling out and no charge for playing, it is worth taking a nostalgic Pokémon journey in this browser-based MMORPG.