Pokémon has become a worldwide sensation
Pokémon, the highest-grossing media franchise of all time, turns 25 this year, and it’s fair to say that it is stronger than ever. The Pokémon Company has scheduled a whole year of events, including a special anniversary website, musical collaborations with the likes of Katy Perry, and much more to mark the occasion.
The franchise has come a long way in those 25 years, creating a staggering $90bn in revenue in the process. Not bad for a simple video game that began life restricted by the humble graphics of the Game Boy a quarter of a century ago. So how has the story of Ash Ketchum and his ‘pocket monsters’ grown to such global domination?
Where it all began
Pokémon was launched in Japan on 27th February 1996 as Pocket Monsters Red and Blue. It was inspired by the boyhood insect collecting hobby of its creator, Satoshi Tajiri, and involved catching, training, and battling a wide range of creatures based on ancient myths and modern animals. The game arrived in the US two years later as Pocket Monsters Red and Blue.
It evolved through eight ‘generations’, each with a new location and new monsters to collect, with the Pokémon Black and White edition, set in a city very much like New York, really cementing its place in the American market. Today’s Pokémon editions are far more complex and compelling than the original versions, including special sections like the Game Corners area with Pokémon slot machines, which imitates online casinos such as Unibet.
Pokémon is the second most successful video game of all time, beaten only by SuperMario, which is also a Nintendo title. The Pokémon Company has sold 368million copies of the video game alone – and that is just the start of the franchise’s reach. The Pokémon brand also spawned an anime TV show, which has seen over a thousand episodes and over 20 series in 169 countries worldwide. There have also been 23 animated films and a live-action adventure, Pokémon Detective Pikachu, starring Ryan Reynolds as Pokémon’s favorite, Pikachu.
Pokémon is the world’s best-selling brand of toy and the most successful trading card game in history, with over 30bn trading cardssold to date. It has even spawned two short-lived theme parks, Poke Park, in Japan and Taiwan in 2005 and 2006
The brand saw a massive revival in 2016 when The Pokémon Company celebrated the 20th anniversary with the launch of Pokémon Go, an augmented reality video game, in which players capture Pokémon ’in the wild’ in their local area. The game was an instant success and has been downloaded over a billion times since its launch, becoming a favorite children’s mobile game with a whole new generation.
Pokémon Go took the game into the ‘real world’
The Pokémon Company is making a big deal of their silver jubilee with a host of events, collaborations, and special additions to existing games. For example, Pokémon Go players will be able to travel back in time to catch the 150 original characters found in the Kanto region of Japan in the very first game.
Skateboarders will be able to buy special limited edition Pokemon-25 Bear Walker boards, and there are plans for many more franchise tie-ins. Naturally, the famous trading card game will also see exclusive 25th-anniversary cards, which are sure to become instant collectors’ items.
Twenty-five years after its original launch, Pokémon looks stronger than ever. Who knows what the future will hold for the global game, as virtual reality becomes more accessible and affordable, and computer games develop in other ways we can’t even imagine right now? Whatever shape the game takes 25years from now, one thing is certain; our children’s children will still want to ‘catch ‘em all’!