They will pretty much automatically decline you, unless you are an established game company. The licenses to legally use the Pokemon brand alone probably cost thousands upon thousands of dollars…if Nintendo would accept (This is how Chunsoft was able to start off the spinoff PMD series legally). I worked with a Pokemon-affiliated project (their Symphonic Orchestra series) for a single night showing, and the restrictions on how to market/advertise for it were extremely strict, including a list of youtubers you weren’t allowed to contact to advertise the game. You weren’t allowed to post any images other than what they gave you, so no creative injokes with the Pokemon community to help make things go viral/etc.
This means PMU’s team would have to be competent and wealthy enough to get a bid to produce the next game instead of the game company currently under contract for the PMD series ( this is all when PMU’s team barely meets our own standards). That would be if they could get the contract to create an MMO series…
which Nintendo won’t do until their home consoles OR the Pokemon franchise itself is nearly dead, because selling game consoles and having other people pay to sell 3rd party games on said consoles is a lot more lucrative than selling a single franchise.
I’m sorry to be the crusher of dreams here, but if we’re looking for ways to avoid copyright issues…it is pretty much impossible. I don’t see a reason to not implement my suggestion as the point stands, given that I’ve already noted how creating an incentive won’t push the game “over the edge” legally. It’s already over that edge; the more productive questions to ask would be if such a system created balance problems within the game and if the staff are able to do it.
Legally, all fanmade Pokemon projects are screwed if Nintendo decides to exert their power.
To be extra clear -
Hosting copyrighted content without express permission by the copyright holders / without the content falling under fair use [PMU does not fall under fair use] can get the game shut down. The fact that PMU is small, poses no real economic threat to Nintendo, is not hard to distinguish from official games, and the people running it are not making any viable income from PMU [Ex: Drake/Nuxl/Coki/Erl etc are not worth suing] is what is keeping Nintendo away. There is no reasonable way for PMU to become legal, so the best course of action is to keep PMU up and of good quality indefinitely until Nintendo sends a cease and desist letter. $26 or less a month from the playerbase to keep ends met is not going to do anything that hosting a nonliscensed Pokemon game hasn’t already done.