From video games to TV shows to movies, Pokémon has captured the world by storm and hasn't let go in almost three decades. The entire franchise is built on a fantasy world where creatures named Pokémon exist among humans. Though they are wild, they are captured and trained by humans, and even used in competitions to see who has the strongest ones of all. Beyond the success of being a powerful Pokémon trainer, many others simply collect them for study or for bragging rights. The world of Pokémon is massive, with more and more creatures being introduced all the time.
For a franchise that mainly appeals to children under the age of 10, Pokémon has exploded into something even adults will engage with. So what exactly has led to its massive and sustained success for over two decades?
One of the main reasons for Pokémon's huge success is that it grew with its initial audience. When the first few video games came out, most of the people playing them were children at the time. As they grew up, Pokémon released the anime, followed by multiple movies and various other video games. So as the children got older, Pokémon grew with them, providing a wide array of media to engage with.
To this day, there is still new Pokémon media constantly releasing, like the new Pokémon Unite video game on the Nintendo Switch. One of the smartest decisions the franchise made was introducing Pokémon Go, the mobile game that allows players to walk and catch virtual Pokémon in their real-world environment. It not only provided new content for older players to engage with, but it got them to physically move around -- something not often seen in video games.
On top of continuously providing content through games, TV, trading cards, manga, merchandise and film, the Pokémon universe lends itself to keeping people engaged at any age. The nature of the fantasy universe -- and the fact that its creators are constantly adding more and more Pokémon to it -- means people can continue their Pokémon journey, whether as a player of the game or a viewer of the TV/film content.
The formula never grows stale either -- even though it's essentially the same tale being told over and over again, it's never boring. The story of a trainer who overcomes all odds, as any good hero does in any work of fiction, and wins the league or meets their collection goal, is something people want to feel. Pokémon's content is also extremely relatable because many fans/players start to care for the creatures as if they were pets, which is sort of what they become to both trainers and players of the games.
Because there's an interactive element to the franchise's video games, people can remain interested in the content since they get to actively participate in it. If Pokémon was just a TV or film series, it likely wouldn't have had as much success. But because people can enter the fantasy world themselves and collect Pokémon just like the trainers do, it means they'll continue to have an active interest in the franchise. It's one thing to simply watch something cool; it's another to get to play the role personally. So those who have been fans since childhood can continue engaging with the franchise as adults.
Ultimately, the Pokémon franchise has proved to be powerfully capable of longevity, succeeding for well over two decades. The combination of multiple forms of media and the content itself makes for a huge success that transcends generations. Most importantly, the franchise has always remembered its audience and given exactly what they've asked for, changing and evolving alongside them. Now Pokémon is popular with both kids and adults, because the latter never lost their love for it. It continues to engage, develop, and stay current, hence why it's such a smashing success.
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