Game Freak wowed players with the release of Pokemon Legends Arceus. Gone was the linearity of following a path leading to towns and Gym Leaders, replaced by lush open-world maps and terrifying wild encounters.
Before it came out, fans were concerned about whether the Sinnoh origins title would deliver due to it being such a radical departure from other games in the series. Fast forward to January 28, 2022, and trainers were stunned, with reviewers giving it a score of 83 on Metacritic – we gave it a 9/10 ourselves.
Players fell in love with the Hisui region, its mechanics, and, namely, the absolute sense of freedom it gave when being able to roam around an open-world map and observe and catch wild ‘mon in their natural habitats. Amazon couldn’t keep the game in stock for a solid week after release.
This hype and excitement around Game Freak’s venture away from the traditional format of their games is exactly why now is the best time for The Pokemon Company and Nintendo to consider finally making a massively multiplayer online roleplaying game (MMORPG).
The demand for online Pokemon games is clearly there
In July 2021, Pokemon released their first proper dip into the online gaming space with Unite, a free-to-play MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) that pits two teams of five together to earn points and take over the arena.
According to SensorTower, the game hit 30 million downloads by the end of its first week, with half of those just in the first two days.
And then there’s Pokemon Go. While it may not be a proper online experience, it has multiplayer capabilities – both in real life and remotely – and is one of the top mobile games of all time, grossing over $7 billion in five years.
Pokemon MMORPG = profit
So it’s a natural fit, then, when you consider the success of both Legends Arceus and its open-world maps and online multiplayer Pokemon games. Why can’t this be merged?
It’s undeniable that an MMO would bring in millions, if not billions, of dollars in revenue. Just look at the other top online games right now: Genshin Impact made $2 billion in its first year and World of Warcraft has $9.23 billion in lifetime profits.
- Read More: $900,000 Pokemon card shatters world record
Add the success of Pokemon into the mix, which is the highest-grossing media franchise in the world with $110 billion total revenue, and you’ve got the ultimate money maker. Ask any fan if they would pay $15 a month to participate in raids against giant ‘mon or play through dungeons with Legendary boss fights – guarantee almost all would say yes.
Will The Pokemon Company ever make one?
A quick Google search brings up a plethora of unofficial Pokemon MMORPGs. PokéMMO, for example, takes the framework of Black & White and expands it into four regions and the National Pokedex up to Gen V, and has a large audience. There’s even a 3D MMO for those that want a more modern experience, amongst other fan-made projects.
With Nintendo being notorious for pulling down fan projects, like the recent Pokemon first-person shooter, it begs the question – why are they not touching these? In short: it’s most likely because they have no plans to make a massively multiplayer online roleplaying game for the franchise.
A data leak in 2020 revealed that the company was, in fact, considering developing an online Pokemon title for PC back in 2004. Based on Fire Red and Leaf Green, it proposed Game Boy Advance connectivity, online play with trading, battling, and chatting, tournaments based on Colosseum, and more.
The fact this never came to fruition hints that possible development problems arose – if it even reached that stage – or simply that Nintendo didn’t think it’d be popular enough to warrant making or couldn’t spare the manpower for such a huge undertaking.
Either way, the project was ahead of its time, and fast-forward 18 years where the gaming industry is much more technologically advanced – why couldn’t they revisit the idea of an MMO Pokemon title? The fact that it could make billions is undeniable.