Pokémon Unite can become the next big Mobile Esports title
Pokémon has been a huge success across multiple formats. The franchise has become the highest-grossing media franchise across games, anime, and movies Pokémon has beat out Star Wars and even the collective whole of Shönen Jump.
All of that though, really stems from the core Pokémon video games. The series has already had an impact in Esports with competitive battling. However, next year might be the biggest yet for competitive Pokémon. The release of Pokémon Unite is going to push the franchise into new ground, and potentially into a lucrative new market for mobile esports.
Pokémon Unite was revealed in a Nintendo Direct earlier this year. The game is a MOBA entry for the Pokémon series that looks like a solid enough side outing for the game. The announcement itself was pretty widely overshadowed by a sequel to the fan-favorite Nintendo 64 game Pokémon Snap. On a closer look though, there is good reason to believe Pokémon Unite is going to make big in-roads to competitive games following titles like League of Legends Wild Rift.
Mobile Esports in 2021
Mobile esports are already a huge market in Asia and gradually building the market in the west. Honor of Kings became one of the most popular games of all time despite its relative obscurity outside of China. The esports segment of HoK is not lagging behind either. Analysts predict that this market is going to grow outside of the country too.
We can fully expect mobile esports becoming more important than ever in 2021. Autochess, Battle Royales and MOBA titles are likely to be the driving force forward.
The target audience for mobile esports is considerably larger than normal esports. The barrier of entry with hardware is negligible, only needing a smartphone rather than a high powered gaming PC. This affordability makes the mobile esports market quite attractive. A lot more people have access to mobile games and for a lot less of initial purchase.
In terms of the west, mobile esports are still in their infancy. This is set to change though. League of Legends Wild Rift is going to be the first big expansion into the market, but Pokémon Unite might just manage to push ahead.
Pokémon Unite’s Audience
The appeal of Pokémon Unite might be slightly wider than that of a traditional esports like LoL. LoL is hugely popular in competitive gaming circles. In more casual spheres though, it isn’t. It is known as a competitive game, not as a general audience popular game. While Wilf Rift is based on using an established IP as an entry point to mobile gaming. The IP isn’t all that established outside of esports centric circles. Pokémon on the other hand is a juggernaut.
The series appeals to players far outside of the normal esports demographics. Pokémon Go was played by a wide variety of people and the franchise itself pulls in fans who are completely unaware of the existence of esports. In a way, this market is kind of similar to that of mobile esports as a whole. Pokémon can pull in demographics that normal games can’t reach, a good combination when aligned with the openness of mobile esports.
Pokémon Unite and mobile Esports
If market trends are anything to go by, the coming years should see a decent growth for mobile esports. Pokémon Unite is well primed to take advantage of this growing market. The game is even being developed by the team behind some major competitive mobile titles like Call of Duty Mobile, PUBG Mobile, Arena of Valor, and Honor of Kings. Those last two are some of the most profitable mobile esports titles around.
The game is being published by Tencent rather than Game Freak or Nintendo, a company with a much healthier relationship to competitive gaming communities. Albeit, a more complex relationship with the gaming community as a whole.
The hardcore Pokémon audience doesn’t seem too engaged with the upcoming Pokémon Unite, preferring battling and the core RPGs. The game however, does have a huge potential market though, as do mobile esports as a whole. While League of Legends Wild Rift is slowly growing, Pokémon Unite might be the game to really epode mobile esports outside of Asia.