Ultimately, the goal of Pokémon TCG Live is to replace the decade-old Pokémon TCG Online as the way to play the enormously popular card game over the internet. However, as of today’s global beta release, given the bugs and issues we’ve experienced we’d strongly suggest you avoid it for now. However, if you’re determined, then for goodness sakes, read on to find out what you must do first.
Pokémon TCG Online (PTCGO) is undeniably a wobbly old piece of software. Struggling to maintain internet connections on tablet, and a clunky thing to handle on PC, it’s certainly fit-for-purpose, but there’s a lot of room for improvement. The intention is that such improvement will come in the form of Pokémon TCG Live (PTCGL). In various betas for the last couple of years, and delayed from its intended release in 2021, it’s finally able for everyone to download today, while PTCGO remains available until the beta is over. It’s just, well, I wouldn’t be switching just yet.
The major issue is, migrating your account into PTCGL means never, ever being able to log back into PTCGO. It absolutely warns you this will happen when you opt in to migration, but it’s far too easy to miss just how serious the consequences of this are, and how much there is to lose. Then, when you do, you’ve moved from a relatively stable version of the game, to one that I’m surprised The Pokémon Company saw fit to release worldwide.
Go Spend Your Coins Or They’re Gone
Those who’ve been playing PTCGO for a while will inevitably have a teetering pile of Pokécoins they’ve won, with which packs of cards and decorative items could be bought. Migrate to PTCGL and, well, you’ve lost them. There’s apparently some sort of conversion to an amount of PTCGL’s Crystal currency, but it’s opaque, and the two currencies aren’t equivalent. You definitely want to go to Online and spend as many of them as you can before they’re lost.
You Have To Export Your Battle Decks Or They’re Lost
This one I had no clue about at all. While migrating your account to PTCGL brings across your card collection as well as some of your card boxes, sleeves and coins (although it’s not clear which won’t make it), and also acknowledges your pre-Sun & Moon cards (even though you currently can’t play them), it just won’t bother importing your personally created battle decks.
This is utterly mysterious, and frankly just damned stupid. Having missed this detail, every hand-built deck I’ve made is now just gone forever. And it’s not as if there’s an elegant solution for those who do know in advance.
In order to keep your own Battle Decks, you need to log in to PTCGO, and then export the text of your “deck lists” to a text file. To do this, go to Deck Manager, then View Deck, then Export Deck, which you can save as a .txt or Word file. You do this for every single deck, and then migrate your account to PTCGL. You can then copy this text into PTCGL’s Deck Editor, via the Create Deck - Import Deck menu options. But if you migrate first, there’s absolutely no way to extract this data from the old app. Given it’s apparently as simple as a text file swap, it’s beyond stupid this isn’t an automated process of account migration.
It Limits How Many Cards It Imports, And Destroys The Rest
When you import your account, it will only bring across a maximum of four of any card. Why? According to the FAQ, just because. Instead, more than four of anything you have in your collection is just burned for zero compensation.
This gets worse for ACE SPEC, Prism Star, and Pokémon Star cards, where you can only keep one of each. The same is true for each quarter of a Pokémon V-UNION card. Why? It just is.
There’s also the bizarre decision to only allow you to bring over 59 of any basic Energy type. 59!
Oh, and if you’re wondering how you can see the cards in your collection now, outside of deck building, you can only find them by...looking in the Shop? Yup, seriously.
It’s A Buggy Beta
It’s not like PTCGO was the world’s most reliable piece of software. Seemingly a butterfly farting near your wifi was enough for it to knock you back to the login screen, and its load times were...not impressive. But PTCGL just seems a cluster of issues right now. Sure, it’s a beta, so that’s understandable, but given importing your account to it means never being able to go back to the better version, it’s definitely information you’ll want to know.
One of the best features of PTCGL is the Battle Pass, which is a much more sophisticated version than the fortnightly unlockable items in its predecessor. However, most of the time as I use this new software, it just tells me it’s not accessible. It did this to me, in fact, right in the middle of the enforced tutorial, meaning I was locked up on a page I wasn’t allowed to leave, but couldn’t do anything with. I had to quit out and start over, right in the middle of the game’s apparent attempts to give me some Silver Tempest Lugia-based cards, and I honestly have no idea now if any of it worked.
After winning battles I’ve played since, I’ve wanted to see my progress. But I’m just getting told, “This feature is not available now.” Not impressive.
Also not impressive is finding, every time you open the app, that the game’s had to disable one of the key elements of the game’s new meta, Forest Seal Stone. These VSTAR-giving tools are a brand new mechanic for Silver Tempest, and one of them is already “banned from play” due to not working properly in PTCGL.
Oh, and possibly less important, the game’s new avatars keep changing themselves without warning, meaning the guy I’ve built to look a bit like my son keeps switching himself over to a really douchy pair of sunglasses.
There’s No Functioning Swear Filter
Well, I just can’t wait for my eight-year-old to log in and play against Fuckle_Shuckle. Great work, everyone.
The New In-Game Currencies Are Bewildering
One of the very best things about PTCGO was that, despite the obvious billions that could have been made, it never allowed real-world money to be spent in-game. While its infrastructure was absolutely built around those code cards you get in Pokémon card products, those always feel like a bonus extra, never the reason you’d buy anything, allowing the online game to feel like a freebie.
Currently, the same is true of PTCGL, with no way to buy anything directly within the app. However, it seems unbearably inevitable, given the bewildering number of new currencies it sports.
You still have gold coins, which are gained by levelling up, completing quests, reaching Battle Pass tiers, and which can be “bought” with Crystals. Crystals are gained by, er, levelling up, completing quests, and reaching Battle Pass tiers. But they can also be spent on getting the Premium Pass for the Battle Pass, which allows you to, um, unlock more Crystals? Then there are Credits! These can be gained by—you guessed it—levelling up and achieving new tiers in the Battle Pass. But you can also recycle cards you gain over the new four-maximum limit for Credits, and then use them to buy individual cards in the Deck Editor. Confused? I think that’s the idea.
Of all of them, the only one you generally want are Crystals, so you’ll never guess which is hardest to come by. In by far the dumbest aspect, to unlock the Premium Battle Pass you need Crystals, which it suggests you gain by winning them in the Battle Pass, but they’re only rewarded in the...that’s right! The Premium Battle Pass.
It’s surely impossible that one of these madly overlapping faux-coins won’t eventually become available for a small cash sum. I hope I’m wrong, but, you know, capitalism. We’ve reached out to The Pokémon Company to see if they’ll share any plans.
Trading Is Gone
Honestly, I find this one of the most shocking changes, and certainly not one that you’re warned about when migrating. PTCGL has no trading option, which is just the biggest shame.
In PTCGO, if there were a particular card you really wanted or needed, you could look through the trading section to see what others would be willing to swap it for. If it wasn’t there, you could suggest your own trade, leave it up for 24 hours, and see if anyone would bite. It was a lovely online version of one of the key elements of any TCG, and it’s such a bummer to see it just entirely eliminated in the update. We’ve asked The Pokémon Company if it might ever come back.
You Will Eventually Have To Switch
There’s no hiding from it in the end. PTCGO is intended to be sunsetted as soon as PTCGL is ready to leave beta. The Pokémon Company is still being cagey about when this will be, but very open and clear that its time is almost up. The company promises there will be plenty of warning before the older version is switched off for good.