Pokemon: A Sales History - NewsMiles Taven, posted on 03 July 2011 / 41,064 Views
Welcome to a new regular feature here on VGChartz, where we dissect the sales - past, present and future - of the biggest franchises in the industry. Today we'll be looking at one of Nintendo's biggest franchises, Pokemon. Watch out for other history lessons on Gran Turismo, Grand Theft Auto and Resident Evil coming soon. If you would like to nominate one of your favourite franchises for analysis please leave a comment below; let your voice be heard!
A Brief History
I'll come right out and say it, Pokemon is the most successful videogame franchise of all time, in my opinion. Sure, it's second to Mario in terms of units sold, but Pokemon has done what very few franchises have managed, and that's be successful in a host of other fields, be it TV, collectable card game, and movies. Still, the legendary handheld games came first, and although the movies, the TV shows and the trading cards have long since peaked, the latest iteration of Pokemon - Black & White - has proven the series is still on top, scoring the highest first week sales for any Pokemon game. 15 years since its birth and Pokemon is more than alive and kicking; it's eternal.
Sales Overview - Main Generations
Blue, Red and the Japanese exclusive Green, along with the later enhanced Yellow edition propelled the Pokemon franchise to incredible heights, despite having no previous fanbase. The games from Generation 1 sit above a staggering 46 million. This was always going to be a tough figure for the second generation games to topple, and so sales dipped to 29.4 million, over 16 million less. Despite the enhanced edition being less than 30% in any given generation, Crystal almost sold fewer units compared to Yellow, than Silver/Gold did against Blue/Red/Green. This is likely due to the fact Pikachu was the focus; the poster Pokemon of the franchise really pushed sales of Yellow, wheras Crystal didn't share the same system selling Pokemon. Generation three, which included Ruby and Sapphire, saw a a similar albeit smaller drop, but Emerald actually stayed flat compared to Crystal.
Whilst sales at this point are still very impressive, relative to earlier games it looks like Pokemon is on the decline. Thankfully, due to the DS's massive popularity, sales in generation 4 grew for both the main games and the enhanced version, reaching just over 25 million. Fast forward to the present day and Black & White debuts to the highest ever debut for a Pokemon game. Sales should surpass Ruby/Sapphire and stand a good chance against Diamond/Pearl. The yet-to-be-unveiled enhanced version for Black & White could substantially boost sales for Generation 5 depending on what route Nintendo decides to take. Already dubbed Pokemon Grey/Gray, appearing on DS and the 3DS would be a very good move; the DS has a big Pokemon fanbase to sell too, and the 3DS could boast better visuals and enhanced gameplay. Pokemon Grey/Gray for the 3DS could sell better than any enhanced version since Pokemon Yellow.
Which Region Loves Pokemon Best?
The chart above conveys just how much Pokemon is loved the world over, since it doesn't dominate in any one region. That said, it's important to note Japan's population is significantly smaller than the Americas and EMEAA. Despite Americas being over 10 million units ahead, Japan is clearly the nation that holds Pokemon closest to its heart. Globally the main generation Pokemon games sit at over 137 million units.
Other Games in the Pokemon Universe
Over the years Pokemon has shown its diversity through console games like Battle Revolution for Wii, Pokemon Snap for the N64, and the popular Pokemon Stadium games. On handhelds there are games such as Pinball, Pokemon Trading Card Game (never a sequel?!) and a couple of remakes from the popular Generational games. Needless to say they sold the best, with over 10 million units each. Whilst none of the non-generational games (including remakes) hit massive sales, the majority fared well, nearly all selling over 1 million units, and most selling over 2 million units. All in all there are 19 non-generational games, and on top of the 137 million units from the main games, the Pokemon franchise sits at just above 200 million units.