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Pokemon TCG Online now available for iPad users in North America

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Pokémon is a massive franchise but its presence in iOS and Android devices have been mainly through the efforts of fans. From field guides and encyclopedias to trivia games and wallpapers, fans have been creating Pokémon-related content for years and each one has been fun. But of course, nothing will ever compare to an official Pokémon game.

The Pokémon Company International Inc. released Pokémon TCG Online Tuesday through the iTunes App Store, a free-to-play trading card game for the iPad. For those who have played Pokémon TCG on Windows and OS X, it should feel familiar as key game features on the PC and Mac versions are present in the app. This means all tutorials, deck-building components, online battles against other players or the AI, avatar customization, and card trading can be expected on the iPad version.

There also won't be a need to create a separate account to play the iPad version because all progress can be transferred across platforms. Buying physical Pokémon TCG products will also yield a code that will unlock digital counterparts for the purchased product.

New players will start with a few digital decks, with additional decks earned through battle. The game itself can be played for free but participating competitively may require boosts that can only be acquired through in-game purchases.

Does the arrival of Pokémon TCG Online for the iPad mean Nintendo is moving away from its strict stance of not offering titles on non-dedicated devices?

Not necessarily. The Pokémon Company International Inc. is founded by and affiliated with Nintendo, but it is not Nintendo itself. To a certain degree, the Pokémon Company is an independent entity. Its decision then to release the TCG for iPad does not reflect all of Nintendo.

However, it does support what Satoru Iwata, Nintendo president, said earlier in the year that creating games on smart devices, even those that use the company's characters, cannot be ruled out.

Pokémon TCG Online first underwent a soft launch in Canada before being launched Sept. 30. Alongside North America, the iPad game will also be available in Australia and Europe.

To play, an internet connection will be required. Also, not all iPads are supported. Models earlier than the iPad 3 and iPad mini with Retina Display will not be able to play Pokémon TCG Online. This means first-generation iPads, iPad 2s, plus the original iPad mini will be incompatible.

No word yet on whether or not an Android version of Pokémon TCG Online is being developed, but it is highly likely, given Android's reach.

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