The question of whether the media franchise, Pokémon, is a worthy contender to that of Disney or simply another globally adored property is a challenging notion to ponder. Besides their differences, there seems to be analogous qualities that can be drawn between these franchises of colossal influence and recognition.
With the advent of Pokémon GO sweeping across the globe with its release, there has been many controversial and safety concerns regarding the free–to-play augmented reality mobile game.
Basically your phone alerts you of any Pokémon within your proximity that can be caught by Pokémon GO utilizing your phone’s camera to indicate where the Pokémons are. There are also PokéStops that allow players to pick up potions and Poké Balls and Gyms where players can challenge or defend against other Pokémon trainers. You gain more experience as you catch more Pokémon and all of this occurs as the app runs on your phone.
Attributing to its unique gameplay mechanic, stories surrounding it ranges from trespassing prohibited areas, armed robbery, accidental exercise, and ever discovering a corpse. The phenomenon has developed to a point where local authorities and departments of safety issued warnings regarding safety when attending the mobile game.
With all that has occurred in the short few days of Pokémon GO’s release, it strikes one with the astonishment at how large of a franchise Pokémon has amassed to, seemingly achieving something almost too big to fail. Much like the titanic property that is Disney and its cumulated fan base.
Today, 92 years after its conception, Walt Disney Studios is one of the largest and best-known studios in American cinema and is the second largest media conglomerate in terms of revenue. The company’s achievements are well renowned with their hand in everything from Film, Musical Recording, Theme Parks, Merchandising, and even the studio acquiring other globally-recognized assets such as Pixar Animation Studios, Lucas Film Ltd., and Marvel Entertainment to name a few.
With Pokémon only celebrating their 20th anniversary this year, they’ve got more than a long way to go to emulate the clout of Disney’s reach, but that doesn’t mean they’re lightweight either.
With its current track record, this one franchise has 25 main series games (on top of even more spin-off games), a 19 season anime series, 18 films, a long-running trading card game, and an innumerous amount of toys and other merchandise. With all of the main games and a number of their remastered game titles selling incredibly well, that has propelled it all the way to it’s 6th generation released in 2013 and a planned 7th coming this holiday.
What began as a pair of games for the GameBoy and it is now the second-most successful & lucrative video game-based franchise in the world. It has completely transcended the realms of being a video game series and has become a worldwide phenomenon almost overnight and until today, it is still just as big as ever with the popularity of this RPG series standing strong arguably without a single misstep. All while continuing to attract more audiences to this franchise who seem to have only scratched the surface of what is shaping the Pokémon empire.
Pokémon knew exactly what it wanted to be back when it started in 1996 and since then it has only grown and improved while remaining true to that foundation laid twenty years prior, a congruous quality that Disney enforced in their strides. Throughout the years of Disney’s infancy, they’ve ventured into Feature Films, Documentaries, and eventually Family Theme Parks, all of which while sustaining their focus towards animation. This resilience in animated films and shorts would evidently result in the company’s success and notoriety, with famous animated films and characters from animated shorts becoming the mascots of the conglomerate.
Walt Disney experimented with countless methods and ideas in the industry. From live-action characters placed within an animated world before the conception of the company, to incorporating sound into his cartoons with near-perfect synchronicity, to the first full-colour animated feature film, and many others. This kind of experimentation seems to be the catalyst for soaring success within a franchise, the potent mix of passion and tenacity for accomplishment that tests the climate beyond bounds as opposed to remaining safe and comfortable for sustainability as a brand.
Tying it back to Pokémon GO, it has grown to a revolutionary scale despite the apparent backlashes. The franchise began and continued producing video games on portable platforms seemingly to encourage play on-the-go and also Trading Card games that requires players to interact. In hindsight, it seems almost unavoidable for Pokémon to adopt augmented reality and propel the franchise to greater heights. An immersive, interactive and social video game, that provokes adventure in lieu of the stereotypical reclusive behaviour inherent to video games.
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