I’ve been sleeping poorly for the last couple of weeks, but if there’s anything that can make being awake at 3am more bearable, it’s the surprise announcement of a new Pokémon game.
This (early) morning saw the announcement of not just one but three different Pokémon titles, and although Pokémon Quest seems interesting, the glittering jewel at the heart of this press conference was the two Pokémon Let’s Go titles, Let’s Go Pikachu and Let’s Go Eevee. The games are developed by Game Freak, although they are not the long anticipated core Pokémon title for the Nintendo Switch. Instead, they’re something new and altogether more interesting.
Let’s Go Pikachu and Let’s Go Eevee are still located in the main franchise, but they’re designed for newcomers to the Pokémon games, with a focus on younger generations and non-gamers that’ve been pulled in by Pokémon Go.
The game has been in development for a couple of years, and it’s stripped away a lot of the core mechanics that many die-hard Pokémon fans might have taken for granted. In fact, by getting rid of several of the more intensive mechanics like breeding and HM’s, and introducing several elements from Pokémon Go – including capturing Pokémon by tossing a ball at them instead of battling them to weaken them first, it could be useful to view this Pokémon as the Football Manager Touch to the core Pokémon franchise’s Football Manager. It’s the same game, but with less faff and steps taken to make it friendlier for a new audience.
In the middle of a phenomenal two years for Nintendo, this could still be one of the company’s smartest decisions. Taking aim at the hundred of millions fans of Pokémon Go has brought a huge potential audience for the title, and allowing players to bring their Pokémon across from the mobile title will get a lot of fans of the franchise to pick the mobile title up again in the lead up to Let’s Go’s November 16 release.
Once this new audience, armed with a Switch and the latest in Poké-capture entertainment are finished, what next? How about the full-fat edition of Pokémon, launching later in 2019?
It seems Nintendo is eager to take advantage of the massive revenue generated by Pokémon Go in 2016, which helped make 2016 the best ever year for The Pokémon Company, with 2017 taking the second place spot as revenues continued to surge.
It’s hard to understate how much of an impact it had. Looking at 2015, The Pokémon Company pulled in $5.7m. In 2016, the company made $145.6m. 2017 had a sharp fall from this, earning just $80.8m, but that’s still a stupendous amount of money.
Nintendo, meanwhile, didn’t actually benefit hugely from the success of Pokémon Go due to the partnership of The Pokémon Company and Niantic.
It seems they’re keen to rectify this, and a game to try and take advantage of the massive audience and profits generated by the hugely popular mobile hit is a no brainer, especially if it sells Switch consoles and brings them into the fold for future Nintendo titles.