With Pokémon’s 20th anniversary just around the corner, the question that keeps coming up is, “Why is Pokémon still so popular?” If you take a look at the other products popular during the rise of Pokémon, you’d be forgiven for wondering why it didn’t go the way of Pogs, Beanie Babies or Tamagotchis.
There was something unique about the world of Pokémon that drew people to it. And, for those who were first introduced to it 20 years ago, there is an equal amount of nostalgia surrounding those initial impressions Pokémon had on us.
If you were first introduced to Pokémon when it came to North America, you probably remember trading cards with your friends at lunch time, watching the tv show after school, flipping through your cards, and pretending you knew all of the game’s rules.
For some, there is a lot of nostalgia around the game. For me, one of my best Poke-memories is unwrapping a Charizard card during grade 5 at recess. Everyone around me exploded with excitement (we had never seen a charizard before!). The excitement was so high that I actually had people bidding for it, with the highest offer coming in at $20!
But what separated Pokémon from the beanie babies, Tamagotchis, Pogs, and furbies? It could be that there was very little connecting these popular collectibles and hobbies to our friends. Yeah, we’d play and compare after school, but it wasn’t the same type of interaction that Pokémon cultivated. These were singular games, with little social impact.
Whether you were first introduced long ago, or you’re a newcomer to the game, there is something truly unique about Pokémon. When asked why it’s so popular, some have attributed it to “The training, the winning, the collecting… It gives a sense of achievement and reward.” Some have claimed its popularity stems from some sort of “addictive formula that can cater to a wide range of people.” VideoGamer.com breaks down Pokémon’s popularity even further in their post The Top Reasons Pokemon Rules. They argue that “There isn’t a game in existence that utilizes multiplayer and connectivity as successfully as the Pokémon series” and that the Pokemon trading game is “just as popular as the video game itself, and captured the concepts of trading and battling perfectly.“
And since nostalgia is always a great note to end on, I’ll defer to VideoGamer.com for its excellent summary of Pokémon’s cross-generational reach. “Just like The Simpsons and Toy Story, Pokémon is able to bridge the gap between two generations. Whilst children might enjoy the cute monsters and easy-to-understand narrative, adults revel in the deep RPG mechanics and hundreds of hours of potential gameplay. If somebody tells you Pokémon is just for kids; they’re quite simply wrong.” We couldn’t agree more!