#11 – Pokemon and transmedia storytelling

Pokemon as Transmedia Storytelling was an article written 10 years ago, and the world it exists in has shifted since then. I want to use this article as an excuse to get something off of my chest: my take on the Palworld vs. Pokemon debate.

The dust has settled quite a bit now and the hype around Palworld has quieted, but it’s still true that from a video game standpoint, the general online population still thinks of it as “Pokemon with guns”. Because of a larger sense of freedom in the game, combined with more complex gameplay, several news outlets have debated if the introduction of Palworld signalled the end of an era of Pokemon.

Pokemon: Character-driven franchise

While I do agree that in the way of video games, perhaps Palworld poses as a threat, I always believed that precisely because Pokemon has, and continues to, successfully expand its franchise to encompass several forms of media, it was never under as big of a threat as the online critics had made it out to be. My belief is that at its core, Pokemon is a character-driven franchise – I always wonder how many people at least know of and have some sort of emotional connection to Pikachu, while rarely or never interacting with the games release from Nintendo. The real charm of the franchise is the ability for players to resonate with the franchise and express themselves through having a favourite Pokemon, which then they can represent though several pillars such as card games, TV shows, or even Pokemon GO or Sleep.

Palworld: Gameplay-first game

It’s been several months since Palworld has been released, and while I only have anecdotal information, it seems that the players who enjoy the game have stuck around for its depth of gameplay, which I definitely do think is a merit they have (while playing the latest installation of Pokemon, Scarlet, I found that performance was so poor that my game crashed the moment it started raining in the in-game world). This makes it feel like the two games are not in direct competition with each other. Furthermore, it limits Palworld’s ability to expand to different media formats: in order to effectively communicate the value of their franchise, their expansions would need to tie back to their gameplay, which makes it difficult to assimilate themselves into the everyday life of a player. I’m fully aware that as a non-player, this could be a false observation – but this limitation is what leads me to believe that Palworld currently does not have the ability to de-throne Pokemon, which finds new media formats to help evolve its brand with ease.

What does this mean for me?

In the context of my blog, what this demonstrates to me is that in order to begin even planning for a transmedia strategy, I need to identify what charms my blog has that can carry over to different media channels. Right now, my blog is quite wordy and has little visual elements that would help an audience recognize me on other platforms – this makes it hard for me to plan what kind of content I could have, but perhaps more analysis would eventually help me out.