Why Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu!/Eevee! Is the perfect game to release this year.
Last week saw the announcement of Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu! and Pokémon Let’s Go Eevee! These will be the first RPG Pokémon games to come to the Nintendo Switch though they aren’t the ‘core’ titles that Game Freak teased last E3.
These titles see the classic Pokémon formula merged with Pokémon Go to create a great platform for lapsed and new fans to join the series. Many existing fans of franchise have not responded to the Let’s Go games as favourably as others with criticism coming due to the games more seemingly casual approach.
What the ‘hardcore’ fans forget though is that despite Pokémon’s global appeal, the fan base of the video games has not grown as you would expect. Many people play Pokémon games when they are young but don’t stick with the series. Of course there are the dedicated fans that play every game but generally the player base is a younger audience that just plays one or two title and then moves on. This is even more evident when looking at the sales of the core mainline games.
When looking at the sales figures for the games, the units sold has never drastically increased. In fact the series had its highest sales figures for the first entries in the series. This means that a large majority of fans do not transition over to the next titles. These figures wont have gone unnoticed by Game Freak and Nintendo and it must be something they are looking to address.
There will always be a hardcore group of fans that play every game but why do a large majority move on?
A possible reason is because the Pokémon RPG titles have always been handheld games and traditionally as gamers grow up they tend to look for more home console based experiences. The presence of Pokémon on Nintendo Switch could very well change this however.
Another potential reason is that Pokémon is fundamentally built on the original 150 and no matter how great later generations have been, the presence of the first generation has always been in marketing and other projects such as the anime or trading card game.
The significance of the original 150 was made even more apparent when Pokémon Go launched in 2016. Since its release it has been downloaded more than 800 million times. Not only does this show just how far Pokémon can reach in the general population, it proves the draw that the first generation still has.
It’s this market that they are targeting with the new Let’s Go games. Not the established hardcore fan base. If Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu! and Pokémon Let’s Go Eevee! manage to reach even 4% of the audience that Pokémon go has then they will become the best selling games in the entire 20 year series. This obviously will require a lot more hurdles for fans to overcome, the investment alone to buy a Switch, but with more than 17 million Switches in the wild so far and Nintendo targeting another 20 this fiscal year then its a target they are clearly aiming for.
The final reason that could explain why lapsed fans haven’t returned to the series is that the games have progressed to include completely new mechanics and features. The recent titles have included mega evolutions, Z moves and dimensional travel. All would seem very foreign to players that only played Red/Blue/Green/Yellow. The Let’s Go games simpler formula could then allow those fans the perfect jumping on point ready for when the next ‘core’ title is released next year.
If the Pokémon Let’s Go games have the impact on the market that Nintendo and The Pokémon Company is hoping for then they could not only help sell more Switch consoles but kick start a new era for the franchise. An era that could propel the series to new heights and finally see the player base increase to the numbers you’d expect.
With the Let’s Go game set to release in 5 months we really wont have long to wait until these questions start to get answered. Until then however be sure to follow me on Twitter for all the latest on Pokémon going forward.