Game Freak: Competitive Pokémon’s Worst Enemy
Build It and They Will Come
Game Freak did a fantastic job creating the Pokémon franchise. Working hard over the last twenty years, the massive following of fans is a testament to this effort.
Coming together for a variety of reasons, all of these fans share a common passion for battling and collecting the hundreds of available Pokémon. Some fans, however, take playing Pokémon to another level. These trainers focus on the competitive aspect of the Pokémon franchise.
The Elite Four is Just Beginning
For trainers around the world, beating the Elite Four is just the start. Seeking a tougher challenge, these trainers search forum groups and message boards for communities that foster the same competitive spirit. This search ultimately leads to Game Freaks official tournament series, the Videogame Championship Series, or VGC.
VGC, while a great offering by Game Freak, falls short of what is needed to truly grow the competitive community. Tournaments are few and far in between. This leads to terrible pacing throughout each season.
Also, the broadcasts leave much to be desired. Some casters make you feel like you are watching a golf tournament, and there is no type of spectator mode. Game Freak has been slow to develop the tools needed to create a powerful viewing experience.
Everybody Loves Pokémon
You would’t think everyone loves Pokémon by the lack of sponsors found in the VGC series. Game Freak opts to avoid sponsorship completely for whatever reason. This is most apparent during major events where long lapses of time go by between matches with “We will be right back” screens in the place of an epic match.
These moments between matches can be filled with commercials and other content. Sponsorship can go even further than that though! Esports teams and corporations around the world would jump at the chance of partnering with Game Freak for competitive Pokémon, I am sure.
Just as an example GEICOGaming, the esports arm of GEICO Insurance, is sponsoring an unofficial Pokémon Invitational this weekend. Contributing not on the $1000 prize pool, but also all the costs related to hosting the tournament. Now just imagine if Game Freak were negotiating these deals.
Game Freak, Your Work is Not Yet Done
20 years has proven Game Freak has created something special. This does not mean Game Freak should ignore such a passionate constituency of their fans. While Pokémon may not be a democracy, Pokémon fans do certainly vote with their dollars.
If Game Freak would take a moment and listen to these loyal fans they really could grow the Pokémon brand even more over the next 20 years.
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