The Pokemon franchise has been around for around two and a half decades and it’s become a gigantic force of culture. Even if we strictly consider the mainline games and nothing else, a new Pokemon is a noteworthy news item and a well-attended release. I can’t imagine its presence disappearing anytime soon. Heck, I can’t even imagine it’s presence really diminishing. There are, after all, pretty big reasons it has become one of the best-selling franchises of all time.
Part of its power is in its long running television show. It is well written and one of the standout shows for its intended demographic. This show accomplishes a handful of things. First, it blends a basic education of the game’s mechanics into the narrative. Second, it sometimes introduces kids to the other elements of the franchise in the first place.
Kids don’t always take this step into the other properties, though. At least not immediately. We’ve seen a few Pokemon booms since it came out, and some of this had nothing to do with a previous familiarity with the franchise. The card game, for example, was an explosive trend that people could engage with in a variety of ways. They could trade, collect, or play against one another. There was also controversy around it which always helps. Then there was the release of Pokemon GO which fused novelty with nostalgia to start its momentum. Then the communal nature and accessibility of its gameplay brought a ton of people to the game. It seems like the franchise can explode in popularity at any time and then ride the waves of that explosion for a while. It’s almost as if it plants seeds that can sprout at any moment.
Then there is the fact that the game accommodates multiple skill levels. It’s easy enough to beat most of the main series games but there’s an entirely different level, both single player and multiplayer, that people can elect to participate in if they want to really test themselves. The mechanics can be surprisingly deep and appeal to competitive mindsets. There are even world championships for these main games, which is constantly changing and perpetually fresh. This applies to the trading card game, too.
Pokemon is a franchise that is built upon multiple pillars across multiple forms of media. Games, cards, comics, toys, television, and movies. It’s recognizable and offers such a range of experiences that it has a high potential of appealing to different types of people in different types of ways.
The developers also seem to be confident in their future. There are games and expansions on the way that we’ve known about for a while, including the mobile title Pokemon Sleep. But the biggest piece of hope for the franchises future is, perhaps, gleaned from the application, Pokemon Home. This is a cloud service where people can store the Pokemon they’ve capture and even become attached to from multiple games including Pokemon Go. The franchise has long supported the idea of carrying your Pokemon into future generations, but now it seems like there is an effort to make this effortless. Now we can keep our Pokemon with us, in some form, at all times. We can trade PoKemon effortlessly with others and keep our collection in one place which is good because the games, in the interest of cost, efficiency, and balancing the competitive elements, aren’t currently supporting every Pokemon in existence. Understandable, considering that the roster is closing in on a thousand different creatures.
I suppose none of this should come as a huge surprise. While the games aren’t developed by Nintendo, they are published by the infamous video game giant. This company has produced characters that have endured over the decades. Mario is almost the face of gaming at this point. Nintendo seems to lean pretty heavily on its established hits while it produces new franchises. Of course it would preserve Pokemon as long as possible. Pokemon has so much momentum that “will it cease to be?” is maybe not the question I should be asking. It is more reasonable, at this point, to wonder “how could it cease to be?”