The Pokemon franchise has faced steady criticism and backlash from fans through the last few releases of its main series games. The Pokemon Company recently responded to these criticisms, noting the difficulty it faces in trying to please multiple generations of fans.
Pokemon is over two decades old, having seen its first main series games release in 1996. Since then, it has become the world's largest media franchise, drawing in legions of loyal players who, more often than not, have enjoyed the games since their early childhoods. As these fans get older and newer, younger fans discover Pokemon for themselves, it becomes difficult to balance the needs of both demographics.
Certain sides of the Pokemon fan community often levy harsh criticism toward the series' newer releases, typically lamenting that the games are too easy, lazily made, or simple cash grabs. The Pokemon Company's director of consumer marketing, J.C. Smith, spoke to Axios Gaming about the backlash, stating "We hear it. And I think the creators definitely understand that there's a desire for maybe something. But we try to focus on making the core accessible to everyone." This accessibility is a common complaint among Pokemon fans, who often cite older entries in the series as being more challenging, and therefore more enjoyable.
Smith also stated that there is "a vision for what the creators want to provide, and it's [a matter of] finding that delicate balance throughout." As the Pokemon franchise ages alongside many of its fans, balance becomes increasingly more difficult. Pokemon media is largely marketed toward a younger audience, which can alienate older fans who were once catered to at a similar age. In finding a balance between the two, it becomes impossible to please everyone, leaving room for the backlash that Pokemon has received.
Those who recall the "Dexit" movement-a social media storm following the announcement of Pokemon Sword and Shield's reduced Pokedex-know that Pokemon fans have no qualms about lobbying criticism toward their favorite franchise. Still, it might be time to ease up on The Pokemon Company, who are clearly in a difficult spot developing child-friendly games while acknowledging the needs of older players.
Even so, the upcoming release of Pokemon Legends: Arceus may serve to pacify disappointed fans by offering a new, boundary-pushing experience in the world of Pokemon. The series could certainly stand to shake up the formula, one that it's employed since 1996. In doing so, the Pokémon Company just might find some compromise between its most dedicated players.
Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl release for the Nintendo Switch on November 19, 2021.
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