Pokemon Go is currently in full swing, despite the issues that plague it – most notably the revamped Pokemon tracking feature that isn’t exactly on the helpful side. The craze is showing no signs of stopping, however, with the game just recently becoming available to even more countries, mostly in Asia. The gameplay may be a bit shallow and doesn’t hold much strategy, but being able to encounter Pokemon in the real world through augmented reality is just too much for people to pass up.
Hidden behind the mountain of success that Pokemon Go accumulated is the next duo in the main Pokemon games: Pokemon Sun and Moon, set for release this November. Considering the phenomenon caused by Pokemon Go, it’s safe to wonder just how much is the effect of the game not only to the upcoming Nintendo 3DS titles, but to other Pokemon games in the future, too.
More people are familiar with franchise
Pokemon has been around for two decades now, so “unknown” isn’t exactly an accurate word to describe a franchise that spans across multiple platforms – video games, television shows, trading cards, animated movies, and toys. Heck, your mom probably knows who Pikachu is, the franchise’s official mascot. But despite its popularity, the main Pokemon games aren’t exactly sprawling with players – well, at least compared to games that are made specifically for massive multiplayer like League of Legends or Counter Strike: Global Offensive. The most common reason is that people perceive the Pokemon games as being “just for kids”. Not anymore.
Majority of Pokemon Go players are either teens or young adults, with a good number of full-fledged adults in between. And a lot of those, especially the young ones, never played any of the previous main Pokemon games, which irritates “pure” Pokemon fans who think they are just joining the bandwagon. But regardless, Pokemon Go has opened things up for Nintendo to capitalize on. The more people familiar with their intellectual properties, the more people will potentially buy their future Pokemon games, regardless of gaming platform. It’s especially important considering they are set to release a Pokemon game in the upcoming Nintendo NX console. Even though Pokemon Go is not directly their own, Nintendo is benefiting greatly from it in terms of exposure to the franchise.
The pressure is up for future Pokemon games
Since Pokemon Go is such a hit, future Pokemon games will be unreasonably put in a spotlight so bright that it’s almost unfair for Nintendo – or Niantic, if ever they make a follow up to their hit game. Most likely, they will be measured for the number of players they will rake in, as well as the loads of money they will take home. Players, especially the ones new to the franchise and/or games, will expect future Pokemon games to be at least on par to Pokemon Go, and thus creating loads of pressure for the developers – either Game Freak or Niantic – to dole out a much better product. That’s usually a norm for games within a series (read: sequels), to outperform their predecessor, but Pokemon Go may have set the bar too high. And that’s considering it only contains the original 151 Pokemon – the number currently sits at 700-plus across six generations. The developers may be forced to turn to a rather gimmicky gameplay addition to spice things up.
People will expect AR to be the norm
As mentioned, Pokemon Go drew in a lot of players thanks to its augmented reality feature that allowed Pokemon to be “seen” in the real world. Like virtual reality, augmented reality is a technology currently on the rise. The trouble that Niantic presented for Nintendo is that players who had Pokemon Go as their first Pokemon game will expect that all future games will have the same technology. It’s not a bad idea for Nintendo to follow suit and do just that, but the consequence is that they will have to abandon their tried-and-tested role-playing game formula of all previous main Pokemon games and adapt the rather simple gameplay of Pokemon Go. Yes, Nintendo will probably get a lot of new players to play their future games, but they will most likely get the ire of loyal fans that still prefer the RPG gameplay. Nintendo’s upcoming console is rumored to feature augmented reality, so the company may already be heading in that direction.
The other Pokemon are still unknown
Pokemon Go only has the original 151 Pokemon in its data at the moment, although the legendary Pokemon are not yet available anywhere. The unintended consequence of initially featuring only the original creatures is that players who are new to the games and the franchise will only be familiar with them. To them, the remaining 600-plus Pokemon from the second generation to the sixth generation are nothing more than weird-looking creatures that they can’t identify. Of course, Niantic will eventually include the data for the other Pokemon in the future, but unless they do it in one big swoop, people will see future Pokemon titles as games that contain Pokemon they know nothing about. And to casual players, that’s big. Most people are known to stay within their comfort zones, which is to say they’ll only play Pokemon games that contain characters they’re familiar with.
So what does it all mean?
Considering everything above, it’s easy to conclude that future Pokemon games will get more exposure thanks to Pokemon Go, whether it’s for good or bad reasons. (Hey, you know what they say, “any publicity is good publicity.”) The developers at Game Freak will now be in greater pressure to produce games that will allow Nintendo to ride the big waves created by Niantic’s product. Every difference and similarity will be analyzed to the point that any future Pokemon game will have Pokemon Go as its measuring stick. It’s actually really unfair that way, considering the RPG formula has been around for two decades. However, there’s a very good chance that Nintendo will still stick to their guns and just leave Niantic to tinker around with the shallow gameplay of Pokemon Go. After all, it’s safe to assume that once players have completed their Pokedex in Pokemon Go, they will have little reason to continue. The other main Pokemon games still have competitive battling to turn to, which is arguably what keeps the games relevant years after their initial release.