It is time for version-exclusive Pokémon to disappear
It's hard to believe that the Global Trade System in Pokémon has been around since Diamond & Pearl, and it's even harder to believe that, despite thei...
It's hard to believe that the Global Trade System in Pokémon has been around since Diamond & Pearl, and it's even harder to believe that, despite their triviality, we still have version-exclusive Pokémon after 15 years. They no longer promote trading with friends as they did at the beginning of Pokémon. So, why are they still here?
As a child, I enjoyed the version-exclusive Pokémon. Before the internet and Bulbapedia, it was exciting to discover new Pokémon that I had never seen before while trading and battling. I remember how my classmates would rave about getting an Electabuzz, thinking it must be the most exotic and rarest Pokémon in the game. I started farming them at the power plant and trading them to all the Pokémon Blue players for whatever I could get. Version-exclusive Pokémon made sense back then, and the more I learned about the system, the better I could decide which version of each generation I wanted to buy.
I believe that many people still choose their game version based on the exclusive content, although it is not as important as it used to be. Trading has been trivialized by the Global Trade System, making it more of a hassle to obtain version-exclusive Pokémon that are not available to you, at least the non-legendary ones.
For the new Scarlet & Violet DLC, version-exclusive Pokémon really feel like a trivial matter to Game Freak. Only six Pokémon across four evolution lines are exclusive to The Teal Mask version: Griffel, Skorgla, Ambidiffel, Skorgro, Uramokko, and Morpeko. Unless one is genuinely trying to catch them all, I'm not sure why it should even matter.
Given how easy it is to obtain the Pokémon that are not included in one's own version, it seems rather trivial to complain about it. I don't often think about version-exclusive Pokémon. Lately, I prefer to be surprised by the Pokémon I encounter in each new game, rather than checking which ones are version-exclusive and then making my decision. However, for competitive players, version-exclusive Pokémon can indeed pose a significant problem.
During this year's Pokémon World Championship Series, a number of VGC players were disqualified when it was discovered that they had been using hacked or generated Pokémon. It has always been against the rules to use modified or generated Pokémon in competition, but the Play! Pokémon organization has started taking action against players, meaning they have to be much more cautious about where they source their Pokémon from.
Some of the disqualified players claim that their hacked Pokémon came from individuals they trusted and believed would not trade illegal Pokémon. The organization now recommends competitors to avoid any trading to ensure their teams pass inspection. This seems to be the only secure solution, but it also means that anyone serious about playing Pokémon would need to buy two copies of each game and complete them multiple times to obtain version-exclusive Pokémon with desired stats. Version-exclusive Pokémon present a disproportionately high barrier for entry into competition, especially now that trading has become so risky.
I had hoped that we had made a turning point when Legends: Arceus was not released with two versions, but unfortunately, Scarlet & Violet was a return to the status quo. The main series of Pokémon games is long overdue for some quality-of-life improvements, and if it were up to me, version-exclusive Pokémon would be at the top of the list of things we should say goodbye to, especially if we are interested in fostering a healthy competitive environment for Pokémon.