How Big Is Pokémon?
(@tomewing did this for fun)
Pokémon and all associated properties shown or discussed in this presenta...
My son (age 7) loves Pokémon. He asked me the
other day, “Is Pokémon still big?”
I decided to investigate. All the data he...
Pokémon Main Game Sales by
Generation (millions)
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
35
I II III IV V VI
Gen I = Red, Blue; Gen II = Gold, ...
What we’re seeing there is a massive videogame
phenomenon (Gen I) in slow but steady decline
ever since.
But Game Freak, w...
Pokémon Series Sales by Generation
(millions)
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
35
I II III IV V VI
Main Game
Third Game
Remakes
Gen I = ...
The willingness to buy the “third game” drops
off immediately after Pokémon Yellow. But it
never drops any further. And re...
Pokémon Third Game Sales As A % Of
Main Game Sales
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
I II III IV V
Third Game
Gen I = Red, Blue, Yellow;...
If you look at third game sales as a proportion of
the main game sales, there’s very little difference
over time. (Except ...
Pokémon Third Game And Remake
Sales As A % Of Main Game Sales
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
I II III IV V
Third Game
Remakes
G...
Remakes beat third games by a distance, selling
around 70% of the main game total. Looking at
this it’s no surprise Game F...
Of course, you can only sell a game if someone
owns the machine to play it on. So it’s
interesting to look at sales as a p...
Pokémon Main Game Sales As % of
Hardware Install Base
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
I II III IV V VI
Approximate install bases at ti...
This data is VERY approximate – but interesting
anyway.
It tells us that the first Pokémon game released on a
console is a...
So what have we learned?
Pokémon is still very big – a core worldwide game
audience of 10-12 million, around 6-7m of which
will buy any sequels, re...
If you’ve enjoyed this analysis, I work as a
researcher and critic and write about
things (Pokémon included) at
http://fre...
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How Big Is Pokemon?

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Has the Pokemon franchise declined since its late-90s peak, and how badly? A presentation crunching publically available data.

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How Big Is Pokemon?

  1. 1. How Big Is Pokémon? (@tomewing did this for fun) Pokémon and all associated properties shown or discussed in this presentation are © Nintendo. All data shown is publically available.
  2. 2. My son (age 7) loves Pokémon. He asked me the other day, “Is Pokémon still big?” I decided to investigate. All the data here is from Wikipedia, except where I’ve said otherwise. First of all let’s look at the sales.
  3. 3. Pokémon Main Game Sales by Generation (millions) 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 I II III IV V VI Gen I = Red, Blue; Gen II = Gold, Silver; Gen III = Ruby, Sapphire; Gen IV = Diamond, Pearl; Gen V = Black, White; Gen VI = X, Y
  4. 4. What we’re seeing there is a massive videogame phenomenon (Gen I) in slow but steady decline ever since. But Game Freak, who make Pokémon, have never just released one game per generation. Let’s look at the “third games” (updates like Pokémon Yellow and Crystal) and later remakes too.
  5. 5. Pokémon Series Sales by Generation (millions) 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 I II III IV V VI Main Game Third Game Remakes Gen I = Red, Blue, Yellow; Gen II = Gold, Silver, Crystal; Gen III = Ruby, Sapphire, FireRed, LeafGreen, Emerald; Gen IV = Diamond, Pearl, Platinum, HeartGold, SoulSilver; Gen V = Black, White, Black 2, White 2; Gen VI = X, Y
  6. 6. The willingness to buy the “third game” drops off immediately after Pokémon Yellow. But it never drops any further. And remakes are very popular. So there’s a core audience of Pokémon players, steady at around 6-7 million since 2000 (maybe even growing a bit!). Let’s look at that another way.
  7. 7. Pokémon Third Game Sales As A % Of Main Game Sales 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 I II III IV V Third Game Gen I = Red, Blue, Yellow; Gen II = Gold, Silver, Crystal; Gen III = Ruby, Sapphire, FireRed, LeafGreen, Emerald; Gen IV = Diamond, Pearl, Platinum, HeartGold, SoulSilver; Gen V = Black, White, Black 2, White 2; Gen VI = X, Y
  8. 8. If you look at third game sales as a proportion of the main game sales, there’s very little difference over time. (Except poor old Pokémon Crystal). The third game mostly sells 40% as much as the main – impressive when you consider there are two main games every time. For Gen V (Black 2 and White 2) Game Freak made the third game into sequel games, pushing sales above 50% of main game for the first time. An increase, but perhaps not enough to justify splitting the third game.
  9. 9. Pokémon Third Game And Remake Sales As A % Of Main Game Sales 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 I II III IV V Third Game Remakes Gen I = Red, Blue, Yellow; Gen II = Gold, Silver, Crystal; Gen III = Ruby, Sapphire, FireRed, LeafGreen, Emerald; Gen IV = Diamond, Pearl, Platinum, HeartGold, SoulSilver; Gen V = Black, White, Black 2, White 2; Gen VI = X, Y
  10. 10. Remakes beat third games by a distance, selling around 70% of the main game total. Looking at this it’s no surprise Game Freak’s 2014 release is a remake – Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. How well will those games do? We don’t know, because so far the remakes have been of the highest selling originals (Gen I and II). That may have been a factor in the popularity of remakes.
  11. 11. Of course, you can only sell a game if someone owns the machine to play it on. So it’s interesting to look at sales as a proportion of a machine’s install base.
  12. 12. Pokémon Main Game Sales As % of Hardware Install Base 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 I II III IV V VI Approximate install bases at time of main game release: Gen I – 64m (GB), Gen II – 118m (GBC), Gen III – 35m (GBA), Gen IV – 47m (DS), Gen V – 146m (DS), Gen VI – 35m (3DS)
  13. 13. This data is VERY approximate – but interesting anyway. It tells us that the first Pokémon game released on a console is a very big deal, and the second one creates less fuss. It suggests Black & White – released to the biggest potential existing audience of any game – probably should have done better. And it suggests the audience decline of Pokémon is more gradual than raw sales suggest.
  14. 14. So what have we learned?
  15. 15. Pokémon is still very big – a core worldwide game audience of 10-12 million, around 6-7m of which will buy any sequels, remakes, etc. The audience is not completely dependent on hardware – Pokémon sells consoles, but a hugely popular console doesn’t sell more Pokémon. There has never been an outright Pokémon bomb, but some games (Crystal and B/W) seem to have underperformed. Nintendo and Game Freak have managed a tricky transition from pop culture phenomenon to extremely stable videogame brand.
  16. 16. If you’ve enjoyed this analysis, I work as a researcher and critic and write about things (Pokémon included) at http://freakytrigger.co.uk Thanks for reading!

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