Today’s “Pokémon Presents” showcase revealed Pokémon Unite, a free-to-play multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game by The Pokémon Company and Tencent, akin to something like League of Legends.
The game will launch on Switch and mobile devices, with cross-play available between all platforms. Each match will feature two teams of five, and will feature Pokémon leveling up, evolving, battling and catching other Pokémon while players compete to capture each other’s bases.
The Pokémon Company President and CEO Tsunekazu Ishihara and Tencent Senior Vice President Steven Ma spent most of the 11-minute presentation explaining the game’s mechanics, culminating in a staged 5v5 match in which Ishihara participated. Ishihara’s team won.
This seems like it has the potential to be a real cash cow for The Pokémon Company and Tencent. MOBAs such as League of Legends, Dota 2 and Heroes of the Storm have massive audiences and draw in millions of dollars. With a property as globally recognized as Pokémon, Unite could draw in more casual audiences and profit a lot from it.
On the other hand, this isn’t what many were expecting or hoping for. Despite a leak prior to the announcement, fans were clamoring for a Pokémon remake, either a “Let’s Go”-style remake of Gold and Silver or a completely new remake of Diamond and Pearl. However, since Game Freak seems busy developing DLC for Sword and Shield this year, perhaps it was unrealistic to expect such an announcement so early.
With millions, if not billions, of Pokémon fans out there, not all of them are bound to react in the same way. Many will be excited for the game, many will shrug and move on with their day, and many are already spreading vitriol about it through the Internet. At the time of writing, the video announcement for Pokémon Unite has 43 thousand likes, and 71 thousand dislikes. It’s been up for less than an hour.
Pokémon Unite launches on Switch, iOS and Android with cross-play at an unannounced date, as free-to-play games with in-app purchases. The puzzle game Pokémon Café Mix, another free-to-play game with in-app purchases, launched on Switch, iOS and Android on Tuesday.
For more on Pokémon, catch up on all the announcements made during last week’s “Pokémon Presents,” check out the coolest and weirdest walking animations in Sword and Shield’s new DLC and our review for those games.