Back in March, Junichi Masuda, the series director of Pokemon, was asked if they would consider turning Pokemon into an MMO.
This was their response:
“At this point, we’re not thinking of going in that direction. Trading is a core concept of PokÃ©mon. So when you’re trading, you meet with a friend and decide which one you want and which one they want. I would like to emphasize real-world communication. You don’t see each other online.”
Sure, that was seven months ago, and they could have changed their minds by now, but lets all just admit that they haven’t. You’ll have to excuse my complete unwillingness to accept this excuse they have given, and I intend on ripping it to pieces.
First, lets take a look at the most successful MMO on the market: World of Warcraft. According to Wikipedia, over 11.5 million users log in each month to play a game, most of playing along side other members of their group with whom they have allied themselves with (for those of you unfamiliar with the game, these are known as guilds). Many people consider the people they play with in the game to be better friends than those they have in real life, and regardless of your opinion on the sanity and social ability of those people, you have to admit that these people are enjoying themselves and making friends. Within the game, there is also an auction house, where players go to sell items and gear they do not want for profit.
So, how does this apply to Pokemon? Masuda said, “Trading is a core concept of PokÃ©mon. So when you’re trading, you meet with a friend and decide which one you want and which one they want.” Sure, lets assume that I agree with this statement (I’ll come back to this). An MMO would be an excellent platform for trading with friends! The most recent games already has an online version of random training anyways. And meeting other players in game would make for an excellent way to happen upon a great Pokemon you were looking for. “Dang, that was a great battle. I’ll trade you this Pokemon for a different one.”
However, Nintendo is stuck in the past. “I would like to emphasize real-world communication. You don’t see each other online.” To this I ask only two words: SO WHAT?! Whether Nintendo likes it or not, the gaming community is taking their conversations online. If Nintendo doesn’t get with it, they are going to be left in a place where no amount of waggle is going to be able to save them. If Nintendo would back a method of online communication and people will use it. My brother and I were playing The Conduit a while back, and he made the comment to me, “Wow, this works a lot better than I expected. Too bad no other games use this. It would be great.”
Now, let us enter a theoretical world where Nintendo understood what online gaming in 2009 was about (I know, its scary, but we’ll do it together). What would this game be like? First off, let me come back to where I said I was going to. Sure, Pokemon is about trading. After all, you’ve gotta catch ’em all! However, upon purchasing Pokemon Platinum I began looking into the world of competitive battling. I was absolutely amazed by the community that ALREADY EXISTS, providing each other with in depth strategies, team building guides, and even communities with their own group of gym leaders that members could challenge to obtain badges on their message boards (like over at Pallet Tribune). Pokemon has its own place over at Game Battles for goodness sake. Nintendo needs to take a look at what their community wants and give them a place to do all of this where they might be able to profit from it.
Have the initial game experience similar to the other Pokemon RPGs. I honestly don’t think that it would even matter if this was a full 3D game, or stick to the 2D format thrown onto Wii (a little upgraded would be nice though). As the player goes through their adventure, they would run along side other players roughly their same level, and they could battle each other. After obtaining all the badges, you could have additional leagues (even ones composed of players as gym leaders if you wanted), or cool missions. Team Rocket is back from the dead and going to blow up the Earth unless you rally a group of ten Pokemon trainers and go beat them down! Go on a quest to capture a super rare Pokemon. The possibilities are limitless, and could be a 100% natural progression of the Pokemon franchise.
The emphasis on “real-world communication” instead of online communication is hindering the Pokemon franchise, not enhancing it. As soon as they realize this, I’m sure we’ll hear that the Pokemon MMO is underway.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?!